Prevent the spread of fake news

Help your child understand how they can spot fake news

Get practical tips to help your child develop the skills they need to spot fake news, make informed choices about what they should share online.

Adele Jennings shares tips on how to help children spot fake news
Display video transcript

hi I'm Adele from our family life cot at

UK and we've teamed up with Internet

matters to talk to you about keeping

your family safe online as children

become more active in their digital

world it's important to help them

develop for the digital literacy and

critical thinking to spot the difference

between fact and fiction online

increasingly those creating fake news

are making it more difficult to spot at

times even well-established news

organizations find themselves reporting

on stories based on false information

due to the nature of the online world

with so much information coming from a

wide range of sources it can be hard to

know which are trustworthy critical

digital literacy means being careful

about what you read share and write

online there are various different ways

suggested to improve digital literacy

here is a simple three-part method that

will work most of the time when you're

trying to help your kids read it check


weight reading headlines are often

misleading so make sure you read the

whole story

check it anyone can present themselves

as a new source these days but it's not

hard to check online and see if there

really are there are also numerous

fact-checking sites use one if you have

any doubts wait if anything appears

fishy about the post don't share it

there's no shortage of stuff out there

to share

if you still like the story give it a

couple of days and see what other people

think kids that are younger believe

everything they read online it's

something that parents need to be aware

of not everything you see and read is

real this is particularly important to

Jacob as he watches a lot of YouTube

videos so I talked to him about the

editing process and how easy it is to

make people believe you're somewhere

when you're not thanks to green screens

and special effects with amber she knows

to go to trusted sites to research her

homework and I tried to encourage her to

go to two different new sites to get

different angles on a story she's

interested in it's also worth talking to

them about spam and the possibility that

some of the adverts that come across

might also be fake or fraudulent

Internet Matters has created a fake news

advice hope to learn more about what

fake news is and how to spot it to help

your child think critically about what

they see online and improve their media

literacy skills for more advice on how

to help your child's spot fake news and

tools to support them on this issue go

to Internet Matters dog


2 ways to prevent fake news spreading

Have a conversation about fake news

Encourage your child to talk to you about what they see online and agree how you can check the information together. Rather than telling the the child that what they’ve read is false, instead challenge them to check the accuracy themselves.

Improve their digital literacy

Digital literacy is the ability to use information and evaluate it. While many children lack these skills, they can be quickly improved if you explore what fake news could look like together.

Why is tackling false information important?

Ensuring that children have better access to reliable information can help them to have a balanced view of the world around them. It also allows them to be informed and protects them from scams and hoaxes.

It can also protect them in other ways. For example, during the COVID19 pandemic, disinformation and misinformation prevented many people from receiving the vaccine, leaving them vulnerable to illness.

What can I do to help my child spot fake news?

Ensuring that children have better access to reliable information can help them to have a balanced view of the world around them. It also allows them to be informed and protects them from scams and hoaxes.

It can also protect them in other ways. For example, during the COVID19 pandemic, disinformation and misinformation prevented many people from receiving the vaccine, leaving them vulnerable to illness.

Improve their critical digital literacy

Social media has created a new kind of ‘digital literacy’. Digital literacy is not just reading content online, but sharing, discussing, and posting content yourself. Critical digital literacy means being careful about what you read, share and write online. There are various ways of improving digital literacy.

Encourage them to challenge what they see online

In part due to fake news, our children suffer from a lack of confidence when it comes to challenging the truthfulness of a piece of information.

So, rather than telling them something they read online is false, encourage them to check the piece for accuracy themselves.

Have regular check-ins about what they do online

Talking to your child about what they do online and highlighting examples of fake news can be helpful. If you’re stuck on where to start the conversation, remember that simple things can help, like discussing the difference between fact and opinion, perhaps to solve an argument between your kids.

For younger children, it may be a good idea to talk about how information online is made and what people’s intentions behind making it might be, for example making money, getting famous, or getting people to like them. With older children, it’s important to stress that we tend to trust things that we agree with more than those we don’t. Even if you read something online that you don’t agree with, it’s important to take a step back and consider the facts.

How can you avoid spreading fake news?

Read it

Headlines are often misleading so make sure you read the whole story.

Check it

Anyone can present themselves as a news source these days, but it is not hard to check online and see if they really are reputable. There are also numerous fact-checking sites. and are just some recommended sites that you can use.

Here are some questions children and young people can ask themselves to determine if something is real or fake:

  • Who wrote it? You can check the author on the page or go to the about us or contact pages to see who is the person or the organisation that have a Google search to see what else you can learn about this person or organisation from other sources to check if they are who they say they are.
  • Is this a promoted or paid piece of content? At times promoted ads at the bottom of reputable sites can be used to spread fake news. To spot them you’ll usually see an “Ad” tag next to the image or on the image. This could give you an idea around the intent behind the content. Is it trying to sell you something, or push a particular point of view?
  • Does it promote a particular viewpoint? Sometimes it can be easier to believe something if we agree with the beliefs that are promoted in the content so it’s important to not take things at face value even if we agree with them.
  • Does it make you feel something (angry, happy, sad?) Fake news is often written to trigger an emotional response in people because that makes them more likely to engage with or share it.
  • Can you find it on a reputable site? Try and look around to find other trusted sources that have written about it to see if it checks out when compared side by side.
  • Are there any typos or other errors in the content? You will often find fake news sites will contain a lot of typos and grammatical errors on the site and URL.
  • Check the date – Some stories are not completely fake but are a more distorted version of real events so checking the date can help you determine if what is being said is real or fake.


If anything appears too good to be true or you are concerned about whether it’s real or fake after checking it, it’s best not to share it. Give it a couple of days to see what other people think, and if you still like the story then consider sharing it.

What tools are available to spot fake news?

How to spot fake images

If they are concerned that an image is not real, they can do a reverse search where they can use a search engine like Google search to upload the image or the image URL and see where else it’s been used online.

How to fact-check images with Google
Display video transcript
so they say a picture's worth a thousand

words but when you're searching for an

image online how do you know that every

one of those words is true we're gonna

show you a simple trick you can do it

with Google and it's called a reverse

image search okay so there are a couple

of different ways you can do this first

one is to go to images yeah

and you can go over there you this this

looks like a normal Google search page

but we have the Google images icon and

you'll see the little camera search by

image icon right here that's key now one

of the first ways so one of your first

of the few options we'll show you today

to do this is a drag and drop so let's

say you have an image saved on your

desktop here it is I'm just going to

drag it right over here into the search

bar it will upload the file and I get a

whole list of hits where that image is

in the in the page and so I can then go

and investigate all of these different

sources where that image shows up one of

the second options you can do is to

click the little search by image icon

and you can paste a URL in there and

let's say I've found a URL where this

this image I want to search is and I can

paste it in there and search once again

I will get a big list of hits of

different sites where this image shows

up let's talk about a third way that is

even a little bit easier to do and this

is probably the simplest way and one

that I highly recommend only if you're

using Chrome though let's say you're on

a web page and you find an image and you

want to know more about that image you

can right-click or control-click on the

image and then scroll down here to suit

search Google for image and

automatically a new tab will open up in

your Chrome browser giving you the same

so the last step you want to do and the

most important one is probably to ask

some critical questions about the

results that you just found you want to

ask questions like on what kinds of

websites does this image show up are

there any clues about where the image

originated has the image been altered in

any way any place that you've seen it

and that's just the tip of the iceberg

for more information about asking

critical questions with a reverse image

search or just about fact-checking in

general head on over to common sense org

slash education

How to spot fake videos

Checking if videos are real is much harder than images, especially as it has become easier to create fake videos like ‘deep fakes’.

However, Microsoft Video Authenticator is a really useful tool. It can analyse a photo or video to provide a percentage chance, or confidence score, that the media is artificially manipulated. The tool is available through Reality Defender 2020 website where you simply upload the image or video and it analyses it and then provides a percentage of how likely it’s been manipulated.

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