How to prevent misinformation

Help your child spot misleading information online

Get practical tips to help your child develop the skills they need to spot misinformation and make informed choices about sharing content with others.

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


Quick tips to help kids think critically about information

Talk about misinformation

What does misinformation look like?

Like any online safety issue, regular conversations about misinformation can help children approach things with a critical eye.

Talk about what it looks like and the harm it can cause. You can even use news stories or real social media posts to talk about whether it’s trustworthy and how they know.

Review the 'common tells'

How do you know if something is fake?

Discuss with your child the common things that show something isn’t true. However, remind them that even if something looks legitimate, they should still check it’s trustworthiness.

Common signs something might be false include:

  • Grammar or spelling that is incorrect or confusing;
  • Emails or messages from unknown sources;
  • Cheap or discounted items that are usually expensive;
  • Big claims that something is a ‘miracle’ or ‘unbelievable’;
  • The information could harm some people.

Above all else, if you feel like something is too good to be true or is ‘off’, check it. It’s better not to share something than to spread misinformation.

Give them fact-checking tools

How can you check that something is true?

Discuss with children the ways they can check that something is true. Maybe that means they need to find 2 more sources that confirm the information. Or, maybe they need to use fact-checking tools before sharing something.

Popular fact-checking tools include:

Avoid spreading misinformation

Help children stop the spread of misinformation

Teach children these 3 steps to stopping the spread of misinformation.

  • Read it: Encourage children to read the whole article or watch the whole video instead of just the title. Often, misinformation can spread by people only reading the main headline instead of learning the whole story.
  • Check it: Show children how to fact-check to make sure the information they share is real and truthful.
  • Wait: If something seems too good to be true, wait. Instead of sharing things immediately, take a few days to let it sit. See how other people react to it and whether it seems factual.

Take the Find the Fake quiz

Complete the Find the Fake quiz with your child to help them learn about identifying misinformation.


Why it's important to prevent misinformation

Spreading false information can cause harm in different ways. So, it's important to make children aware early.

Making sure that children have access to reliable information can help provide them a balanced view of the world around them. It also helps them stay informed, therefore protecting them from scams and hoaxes.

Furthermore, some misinformation is incredibly harmful. It might encourage people to take harmful medications or avoid official guidance from educated people. This could lead to health problems, illness and further physical harm.

How to help children spot false information

Help children and young people develop their media literacy with these tips to spot false information. Knowing what to look for will help protect them from potential harms.

How to spot fake images

Fake images are nothing new. But with the reach of the internet, fake images can spread a lot further and fool a lot more people. Additionally, the popularity of generative artificial intelligence like ChatGPT means there’s an increased risk of fake images spreading.

Still, there are ways to fact check images to help stop the spread of misinformation.

Use Google Lens

Children can use Google Lens on their device to check the source. Within the Google website, they can click the camera icon to upload an image and search that way. You can access it this way on Apple devices.

Android devices have the option to search via Google Lens embedded when you use Google Photos.

The Secret Identity of HarleeGamez

Complete this interactive story with your child to help them learn the steps they can take to fact-check information. Your child's choices steer the story.

Screenshot of the Google website with Google Lens highlighted to fact check images.
Screenshot of how to use Google Lens on Android to fact check images.

When you search an image, Google can find similar images and the websites they come from. You can then check the whether the sources are trustworthy. Misinformation can spread from untrustworthy sites as well as from incorrect context.

How to spot fake videos

Checking whether a video is real is often more difficult than images. This is because there isn’t a simple reverse search or free software like Google Lens.

Source: BBC

Additionally, while some videos use classic editing techniques that make it easy to identify, some don’t. Cheapfakes refer to false videos that use noticeable editing techniques like changing the speed or colour, or using voiceovers and cutting scenes.

Deepfakes, on the other hand, manipulate an existing video in less detectable ways through artificial intelligence.

So, how do you fact check videos?

Look for anything unnatural

It’s hard to detect good deepfakes. One thing to look for, though, is strange or unnatural movements. Maybe the person blinks strangely, or perhaps their words don’t match their mouth movement. They might even move in sudden or unnatural ways.

These things are often very subtle, so you must look closely and possibly watch the video multiple times.

Listen to how people speak

If the video features a speaker, listen to the audio. Does it sound like it’s slowed down or sped up? Are there any points where the audio cuts in a strange way?

Speeding up or slowing down videos, even a little bit, affects the image as well. If the person is moving quickly or slowly, it might be a sign of editing.

Check the background

A deepfake might feature someone in a place they haven’t been. So, signs of this could include a mismatch between the background and the person. Again, look closely as this might happen in one instant but be easily missed elsewhere.

How to stop the spread of misinformation

Helping children develop key media literacy and critical thinking skills can help stop the spread of misinformation.

Read it, check it and wait

Regardless of your child’s skill or ability, this phrase can help them think about what they share with others online.

Read it

Teach your child to read the whole of whatever they see before sharing it. So, if it’s an article, that means reading the whole article and not just the headline. If it’s a video, it means watching the whole video and not just reading the title.

Clickbait titles often mislead people with outrageous statements so that people click through. As such, reading the whole article (if it’s from a safe source) is important.

Check it

Encourage children to find multiple sources for the information they find online before sharing it. For example, you might require them to find 2 more websites saying the same thing before sharing. Or, you might show them how to look up information on Full Fact or BBC Verify first.

Questions to ask yourself

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.


Explain to your child that if anything appears too good to be true, it probably is. Or, if they still feel worried after fact-checking a source, it’s best not to share it.

Instead, give it a couple of days to see what other people think, and if you still like the story then consider sharing it.

Improving children’s media literacy

Encouraging children to question the information they see online develops their critical thinking skills. When a child can think critically about a piece of information — who and where it comes from, what it’s purpose is, etc. — they can better deal with content online.

Media literacy is not just reading content online, but assessing it before sharing and discussing content with others.

Help children develop their media literacy with Digital Matters.

Have regular check-ins with children

Talking to your child about what they do and see online can help them reflect on their experiences. You can also work together by highlighting examples of mis or disinformation and discussing them.

If you’re stuck on where to start the conversation, remember that simple things can help, like discussing the difference between fact and opinion.

For younger children, you can talk about how information online is made and why. Explain that all things online have a reason behind them. The reason could be to share information or spread awareness. However, those reasons might also be making money, misleading people or becoming famous.

With older children, it’s important to stress that we tend to trust things that we agree with more than those we don’t. This is called bias. Even if they read something online that they don’t agree with, it’s important to take a step back and consider both sides.

Resources to tackle misinformation

Help children become critical thinkers and avoid harm from misinformation with these resources.

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