Should kids watch the news?

I strongly believe that it’s important to get children interested in and talking about current events.  In fact, one of the companies I work for’s main focus is delivering the news to kids in a child friendly format.  However, I’m not convinced that I want my 3 year old watching the news.  Bear in mind the recent headlines; Earthquakes, Tsunami’s and the military action in Libya.

The reason I’m bringing this up is on several occasions I’ve come in the front room and found hubby watching the news with Madame milling around.  I don’t think she’s directly watching it.  But we all know that children of this age are little sponges and never turn off.  A prime example was on the weekend when I overheard her ‘sweeping up the bloody worms’.  I never swear around her but she must have overheard me at some point.

What I worry about is that she’s too young to process the information or situation and may find the graphic images distressing.  I don’t want to be overprotective but I don’t want to frighten her.

Do you let your kids watch the news?  If so, at what age?  How do you talk to them about it?  I would really appreciate any thoughts or advice on this one.