03 February 2021
How can we teach kids to spot fake news online?
There’s a lot going in the world right now and over the last few months we've seen a number of concerns raised about false information being spread online. There’s never been a more important time to talk to kids about fake news. Use our advice and tips below to help.
It’s important to have regular conversations with your child about staying safe online, and Safer Internet Day (February 9th) is a great time to talk about something different. This year the theme is ‘An internet we trust: exploring reliability in the online world’.
The internet is full of amazing opportunities for us to learn and share our knowledge with other people but it’s not always easy to separate fact from fiction.
Fake news, misinformation and disinformation – what does it all mean?
Fake news are stories that are created to make someone believe something that isn’t true. Anyone can create fake news which makes it hard to stop false information from being spread.
Fake news is an example of misinformation or disinformation. Misinformation is where false information is shared by accident without the intent to cause harm. For example, sharing inaccurate photos, quotes or dates online because you believe them to be true.
Disinformation is false information shared deliberately to mislead and cause harm. For example, fabricated news stories and political propaganda.
Here are some examples that children might come across:
• Fabricated or false news stories about current news that might make a child feel worried or scared about what’s happening in the world.
• Viral messages containing false information can easily be shared on messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger. A person might be more likely to believe it because it’s been sent by someone they know.
• Challenge videos shared on platforms like YouTube and TikTok. The more outrageous or unbelievable a video is will often mean more views and exposure for the creator. Sometimes challenge videos will be heavily edited to make it look like the video creator did something risky or dangerous. These types of videos are often called ‘Deep fakes’ and look very realistic.
• Influencers advertising products or competitions on their social media accounts or via direct messages. Influencers and celebrities often use social media platforms to promote products in exchange for money. These products will sometimes contain false claims or the influencer won’t state that they’ve been paid to promote it.
• Meme accounts have become popular as a way of quickly spreading unverified facts amongst young people on apps like Instagram.
• Opinions being shared by people your child follows online as though what they’re saying is fact.
• Abusive comments on social media platforms or forums that might contain false allegations about someone your child knows or follows online.
• Online videos contain upsetting or shocking content.
• Scam emails or messages sent to a personal device asking you to provide personal information or contain blackmail demands. Sometimes these will be made to look like they’re from credible organisations or businesses.
It can be difficult for both adults and children to always know whether something they’ve seen online is true. So it’s important to encourage your family to talk and ask questions about what you see.
Help your kids distinguish between what is real and what is fake by following our tips below.