As you probably know, I'm a news junkie. My habit started at a young age after I fell in love with Dan Rather. I loved watching the news every afternoon with my mom and it wasn't long before I was hooked not only on the evening news, but reading the newspaper (Google it kids), and reading Time and Newsweek cover to cover

Hi, I'm Patricia, and yes, I've been a big nerd for a verrrrrry long time!

Well, now I'm older, and the news game has changed. It's 24 hours, in your face, non-stop both on tv and online - nothing new there - people are saying the ugiest things on talk radio, tv, and the internet - nothing new there, either - and for the first time since 9-11, I hear parents wondering how much news they should expose their kids to and how to talk to them about the shooting last weekend in Arizona. I have a friend whose daughter told her that she won't go to the grocery store with her anymore because she is afraid someone will shoot her. So how can parents handle this latest national crisis?

Experts say first off, reassure your children that they're safe. Let them know that even though the Arizona shooting is all over the news right now, things like that are a very rare occurrence.

For kids under 7:  Keep them away from news reports of the shooting.  Think about it, kids that age believe Santa. Fact and fantasy are one in the same, and they might, as my friend's daughter did, believe that just being at a grocery store could be fatal to them, or you. For kids 8-12, work within their maturity level.  If you think your kid can handle a discussion of the incident, talk about it, but keep them from going online and looking at the pictures from the event. Some pretty disturbing ones have already surfaced and they don't need to see that. If your child is sensitive, you might want to keep them from the news altogether

For teens, check in with them. Chances are, they already know a lot from the internet. Experts say it's important to let them know your thoughts about the situation, and listen to theirs. They might have anger toward a group of people that could develop into a prejudice. Help them see all sides of the issue so those prejudices don't take hold.

Fnally, experts say no matter how old your child is, kids talk about things they see, so make sure any information they have gotten from their friends, the internet, or even their teachers, is correct. Dealing with a situation like this is hard enough without your child operating under jumbled facts.