Dealing with fake news

Fake news and misinformation can impact the way children see themselves and the world around them.

If you are concerned that your child has been negatively impacted by fake news online, in this section you’ll find tips on what conversations to have to address it, how to report it and how to stop it from spreading further.

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What to do if your child has been negatively impacted by fake news

If your child has become confused, anxious or developed ideas which discriminate against a certain group of people due to what they have seen online, here are a few ways that you can address their concerns and encourage them to question what they’ve seen.

Conversations to have with your child

When having conversations with children and young people on this issue, it’s important to make sure they feel that you have their best interest at heart, like by helping them think about something without forcing them to take on a particular point of view. Here are ways to approach the issue:

Listen to their concerns

Listen carefully to their concerns to understand what their beliefs are and what they are based on.

Give them space to share

If they’ve been triggered by something they’ve seen, give them space to share how this has made them feel so they feel supported and you can be better informed to support them.

Ask them questions about what they've seen online

Discuss the accuracy of what they’ve seen online and ask them open-ended probing questions to help them think about whether the information is trustworthy or not. Here are a few examples of open-ended questions you can try, “It would be great to see where you learned that. Should we look at it together?” or “Could you tell me more about how you got to that conclusion? I’d really like to see where you saw that”.

  • If they have come across fake news that leads them to believe in conspiracy theories, you can ask them questions to help them think more critically about the content, i.e. do you know how this is sourced? Are there other reputable sources also supporting this view that you could show me? What do other people think about this issue and why do you think they might have a different opinion? Should we look into it together?
  • If you are concerned that they have started to take up radical views based on fake news, it’s important that they feel they can share these without the fear of losing access to their devices. Giving them the space to be open about what they believe will make it easier for you to challenge them about their views and encourage them to look more critically at the sources they are using to support their beliefs.

Share your experiences too

This can help make it easier for them to share their concerns and learn more about how easy it can be to be taken in by fake news online.

Talk about how our bias can affect what we believe online

It’s also important to remind them that we are more likely to listen to those who share our views than those who do not, so looking at a variety of reputable sources for information can help them be well-informed and avoid being misled.

Things you can do together

Encourage them to tell others if they know something is fake

If they have shared fake news with others, it’s important to correct their mistake and let people know the article or post was untrue.

Use real examples to help them spot fake news

Show them real-life examples of fake news online so they are better equipped to spot it if they come across it. You could gamify this by selecting certain posts on your social feed and asking your child whether they would share it or not and the reason why. You could then follow up with a discussion into the best ways to check if something is real or fake online.

Discuss where you get your news from and why

Take some time to show older children how you choose which sites and apps to get your news from and explain why you believe they are credible. This could be a good way to lead into a conversation about how they get their information and why they think it’s trustworthy.

Teach them how to report fake news

In addition to addressing the impact of fake news on your child, it’s important to make sure they know how to report it to stop it from spreading further and affecting other people.

Dealing with fake news on popular social media platforms

Where to go for help if your child is in need of more support

Should your child need extra support, counselling or mentoring to cope with the impact of seeing fake news online then, these organisations may be able to provide advice and support.

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