Dealing with misinformation and fake news
The internet is a vast place with many news sources. Sadly, not all news sources are accurate, and various content like hate speech and conspiracy theories can be distressing for young people. It’s important to ensure your child/teen carefully considers the news they are accessing regularly, is able to distinguish ‘fake news’ from real news and is confident in what to do should they feel they need further support.
How are children and young people experiencing false or misleading content online?
Here are some examples, however we would strongly encourage you to ask your child/teen what they do online and where they themselves go to find things out.
How can I support my child in recognising inaccurate, false or misleading content?
Talk with your child – talk regularly with your child to discover how they use technology, what websites and information sources the access and where their ‘go-to’ place for information online is. Discuss who they’re following and the types of adverts they see, what they have found suspicious or inaccurate themselves already, and why. Challenge them to challenge the source and seek facts or further support whenever they’re unsure of something.
Set an example – if you come across a fake news story/article, or receive a phishing/spam email, show it to your child and discuss how you spotted it was fake, and what you did. How about getting them involved by asking them for a second opinion? This is a fantastic learning opportunity for them to see it first hand and the actions you took.
Check in with your child – inaccurate, false or misleading information can be upsetting and confusing for young people (as well as older people). For example – things like hate speech/hate groups, conspiracy theories surrounding distressing events. Young people may feel powerless when experiencing and reading this kind of content, so it’s important you regularly check in with them and ask them how what they see makes them feel. It can affect all of us, but reassuring them that you’re there to talk about online content that distress them, shows you’re there as a source of support.
Seek further help/support – we regularly ask young people to reach out and discuss when they’re unsure of something – make sure you do too! It’s likely many other parents/carers are also trying to seek support on how they can help their child when it comes to misinformation on the internet. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make the internet a safer place.
If you’re worried or concerned, please reach out to the your child’s form tutor or pastoral team. You can also reach out to me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org for any advice and support. As the College’s CEOP Ambassador, I regularly help and support students with any E-Safety issues/queries/concerns.
Below are links to further resources/support regarding misinformation.
Further Resources & Links
InternetMatters.org ‘Fake news and misinformation advice hub’.
SaferInternetDay.org have a fantastic ‘What to trust online? A Parents and Carers guide’.
BBC Bitesize – ‘how to talk to your kids about fake news’.
Getsafeonline.org – ‘Fake news and Social Media’.