Newsround presenter Ricky Boleto says parents should not shy away from discussing coronavirus with their children.

The long-running programme has seen its audiences rising during the pandemic.

And Boleto, 34, said that the CBBC show is helping parents, as well as their children, in the crisis.

Boleto, who has been a Newsround presenter for over 10 years, told the PA news agency: “People are either returning to Newsround or children who discover it for the first time realise that it’s not just a programme about skateboarding dogs and pandas and it’s trying to look at all the things that affect young people’s lives.”

He said: “Children’s lives have changed to the point where it’s unrecognisable.

“They’re so used to being at school and now all of a sudden they are having to learn from home.

“So, I think we do become more important than ever, not just for children but for parents as well… somewhere where parents and children can get a bit of context to what’s going on in the world right now, without those sensational and scary headlines.”

Boleto said that it was important that parents talk to children about coronavirus.

“It’s not something that parents shouldn’t discuss with their children.

“It’s important that they embrace it full-on. My two-year-old is far too young to properly understand what is going on but is sensing that there is something happening.”

Talking about older children, he said: “Worry about what’s going on in their homes, with their grandparents and their neighbours but do not worry about what’s going on in the rest of the world because that’s too much on a young person’s shoulders.

“We remind our audience that it’s OK to feel upset and be worried and the reason you are upset and worried is that these things don’t happen very often.

“We remind them that it’s extremely rare… that life will return back to normal, that’s what we are trying to reiterate to our audience and I think that’s good advice for parents too.”

Children “think they have to solve problems, whereas you know that you can only do so much.”

Boleto, who is following social distancing rules while presenting from the studio in Salford, said the programme will stay on air despite the limitations.

“We’ve got action plans in place,” he said. “There will be some way of putting out a bulletin whatever happens over the next few weeks or months.”

Under plans submitted to Ofcom last year, the BBC wants to axe Newsround’s afternoon slot from CBBC but keep its morning slot and divert resources online.

– BBC Newsround is available to watch on the Newsround website and on the CBBC Channel at 9.15am, 12.10pm and 4pm.