New parent guide to help kids tackle anxiety-inducing fake news during coronavirus pandemic

Dr Linda Papadopoulos provides advice on how to support children at home following school closures
Display video transcript

hi there I’m dr. Linda Papadopoulos

ambassador for internet matters and

given that schools are set to close

Friday and kids are gonna be home and

have a lot more screen time I thought

it’d be useful to speak to you about

maybe some top tips of how you’ll be

able to best help them navigate this

time the first one is to talk to them

about the issue there’s going to be a

lot of misinformation confusion so it’s

really important that you’re able to

kind of provide that safe space so

whether it’s over dinner or a bedtime

normalize the idea that they can come to

you and ask questions and find out more

the second one is to kind of check the

source of information they’re coming to

you with something they’ve seen right so

get them to become a bit more savvy

there’s gonna be a lot of memes you know

online or you know different sort of

messages so speech them I think this is

a great kind of yearning opportunity

about who’s supposed to get what email

address isn’t coming from her you know

what source and and get them to become a

bit more critical about the way they

interpret these things I think thirdly

and really importantly is discuss the

impact of reposting misinformation again

in some ways as scary as this is it’s

also a bit exciting so being the first

one to say well this is happening and

wanting to share that will be very

tempting so to be able to kind of speak

about you know the impact of posting

something that you’re not sure about is

really really key

um I think you know also check in with

them regularly don’t forget um I think

kids deal with anxiety in different ways

one of the best things you can do is ask

them how they’re feeling but then also

do things like keep as much consistency

and normality you know with schools

closing you know I don’t think this

should be a time where you know people

are waking up whatever time they want

not doing any work you need to kind of

have a schedule kids respond very well

to that and beyond that really

importantly we always say this the work

that we do in Internet matters you know

keep them active and moving as well so

you need a well balanced diet some

screen time but obviously within the

parameters of what you’re comfortable

with and then also very diet of other

things like eating well moving even if

that means just in your garden and

ensuring that you know that their their

mental health is well taken care of by

keeping an open discussion

We are launching our new advice guide for parents on how to protect their children from online scaremongering and fake news surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rise of fake news about coronavirus online

With the high frequency of alarming news updates and fake warnings being spread across social media, it can lead to increased anxiety among children.

Parents are being encouraged to have a conversation with their kids about what they’re seeing online surrounding COVID-19 and help children to think critically to separate fact from fiction.

It comes as screentime levels among children are expected to increase amid possible school closures.

Managing what children see online and conversations to have

Psychologist and Internet Matters ambassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos: “Children are curious and that’s part of human nature however amid this virus, parents need to be careful about the amount of information their child is consuming and also where they’re sourcing it from.

“This is a confusing time for everybody but can be particularly anxiety-inducing for children, especially if they are seeking out information on their own, that may not be true.

“It’s vital parents are on top of this and talking to their children openly, using age-appropriate tools to protect them and checking in on their digital wellbeing regularly.”

Impact of fake news on children’s wellbeing

CEO of Internet Matters Carolyn Bunting said: “With so much information coming from a range of sources, it can be hard for adults to know which ones to trust, let alone young people.

“Fake news can lead to confusion and anxiety and have a negative impact on children and young people’s wellbeing.

“It’s important parents are proactive in supporting their children and teach them how to deal with issues surrounding scaremongering and misinformation.

“The best way to stay in tune with their wellbeing is to have regular, honest and open conversations and encourage them to think critically about the information they’re consuming online.”

To help make sense of what they see online and how this can impact their lives in the real world,  we’ve have produced a parental guide with five top tips to support and empower children and young people.

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