Launch of our Fake News & Misinformation Advice hub

The Fake News & Misinformation Advice hub in partnership with Google was created to help inform and educate parents about fake news and misinformation.

What the Tackling Fake News and Misinformation Advice Hub is about

The hub launched with support from Google will help inform and educate parents and carers with strategies to empower children and young people to recognise and report misinformation online. The online hub offers top tips, resources and expert advice, including content from one of the organisation’s experts Professor William Watkin, on the issue.

Why the hub was created

With the second national lockdown in full force, the spread of fake news about Covid-19 has emerged as a top concern for parents, according to our new research. Over a third (36%) of parents say that they are most worried about their children seeing fake information about coronavirus. This scored higher than any other misinformation concern including; hoax internet challenges (33%), terrorism (33%) and false medical and health-related advice, such as the cure for cancer (28%).

Parent worries about fake news affecting their children

Overall, the study found that whilst three-quarters (75%) of parents are concerned about fake news, only 16% have had a conversation with their children about how to identify fake news in recent months.

These concerns and experiences were found to be even more paramount to parents of vulnerable children. However, these parents are more likely to be aware of fact-checking websites, to help combat separating fact from fiction.

When parents were asked what negative impacts they were most worried about following exposure to fake news, over a third (34%) said they were concerned it would make their children worried or anxious. And over a quarter believe it may distort or confuse their view of the world (27%), or draw them into the ‘wrong crowd’ at school (27%).

The importance of raising awareness

Carolyn Bunting, CEO of Internet Matters, said: “This research highlights that parents are understandably worried that their children may find it harder to separate fact from fiction, especially in relation to Covid-19.

It’s why it’s so important to help them make sense of what they see online, encouraging them to think carefully about what they see and hear online.

For example, help them check the source of the information and discuss the impact of reposting or sharing false information. There are also tech tools on platforms you can use to help limit their news feed and manage what they see.

We always advise parents to have regular conversations with their children about online safety issues.”

Fake news expert, Prof. William Watkin of Brunel University, said: “Fake news and misinformation is a growing problem for parents. The ever-changing digital landscape is making it increasingly hard for parents to keep up.

But by helping children distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake, you can help them develop critical thinking and digital literacy.

Talk to them about what to look out for when they are online, such as what is the story is trying to say and how the story makes them feel – often fake news will try and manipulate people’s feeling in order for them to click.

Also, get them to check things like the URL and the imagery included, and let them know even if it has been shared by a friend or influencer, it doesn’t mean it is real.

You can’t shield your child from the misinformation that is out there, but you can teach them how to read it, respond to it, and, if necessary, report it.”

For more information and resources on fake news and misinformation visit the hub here.

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