How can I teach my child the difference between fact and fiction?
As time moves on and technology evolves, so does the way technology is used. For example, AI (artificial intelligence) continues to change and find more use among all digital users.
Additionally, there are concerns around AI, CGI (computer generated images) and deepfakes, where images of individuals are mapped onto the face of an adult (pornographic) performer. These videos feel real, making it very difficult to tell if they are fake.
Within CGI, we also see a rise in fake influencers. For example, AI social media influencer, Lil Miquela, at one point had 1.6 million followers. It isn’t difficult to see that Miquela was computer generated in videos. However, you may be forgiven for thinking the images are of a real person with over-used filters. What’s more, advertising agencies are used the likes of Lil Miquela to ‘influence’ their products.
How can I help them think critically?
So, why use CGI? I’m sure there are many reasons (e.g. you don’t have to pay a real influencer), but advertisers have also always used cartoons to engage children and young people. As such, this just seems a modern version of that, albeit more realistic.
Then, how do you teach your child what is and isn’t ‘real’ online?
It all comes down to critical thinking — the same logic we apply to any area of our lives. Ask children:
- What is the purpose of this image/video?
- What is the social media influencer trying to persuade their followers to do?
- Why is the influencer talking about this particular product?
What can parents do to help children think critically on YouTube?
YouTube and YouTube Kids offers amazing opportunities for children. However, there is always the potential for something unsavoury such as inappropriate content or people (real or virtual) trying to influence the children to say, do or buy something.
You can help them become critical thinkers while staying safe with the following actions:
- Watch a few of their favourite channels with them and discuss why they favour those channels. Talk to them about critical thinking by using simple questions such as those above.
- If they are using YouTube to view videos about their hobbies, search together and discuss why you feel certain videos or channels are inappropriate. Children need to know what the boundaries are, and they will only know if you tell them.
- Browse through the history every now and again just to satisfy yourself that nothing is untoward.
- Let them know to come to you if something isn’t right; let them know that you won’t judge them or take away their device if they ask for help.