Parents ‘concerned about fake news but few showing children how to spot it’

10 November 2020, 09:24

Child using a phone
Parents fake news fears but few showing children how to spot it, survey suggests. Picture: PA

The research commissioned by online safety group Internet Matters found more than a third worry about youngsters seeing Covid-19 misinformation.

Three quarters of parents are concerned about their children being exposed to fake news but few are actually having a conversation about how to spot it, according to a survey.

More than a third (36%) of the 2,006 UK parents who took part in the research commissioned by online safety group Internet Matters said they are most worried about their children seeing misinformation about coronavirus.

This ranked higher than any other internet worries, such as hoax challenges (33%), terrorism (33%) and false medical and health-related advice, such as a cure for cancer (28%).

Despite this, only 16% have sat down with their children to discuss how to look out for fake news online.

Professor William Watkin, a fake news expert from Brunel University, said: “You can’t shield your child from the misinformation that is out there but you can teach them how to read it, respond to it, and, if necessary, report it.

“The everchanging digital landscape is making it increasingly hard for parents to keep up.

“But by helping children distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake, you can help them develop critical thinking and digital literacy.”

It comes as Internet Matters launched a new hub with support from Google, providing tips and resources to distinguish between what is real and what is false.

Carolyn Bunting, chief executive of Internet Matters, said: “This research highlights that parents are understandably worried that their children may find it harder to separate fact from fiction, especially in relation to Covid-19.

“It’s why it’s so important to help them make sense of what they see online, encouraging them to think carefully about what they see and hear online.”

She added: “For example, help them check the source of the information and discuss the impact of reposting or sharing false information.

“There are also tech tools on platforms you can use to help limit their news feed and manage what they see.

“We always advise parents to have regular conversations with their children about online safety issues.”

By Press Association

More Technology News

See more More Technology News

National Cyber Security Centre launch

National Cyber Security Centre names Richard Horne as new chief executive

The lights on the front panel of a broadband internet router, London.

Virgin Media remains most complained about broadband and landline provider

A person using a laptop

£14,000 being lost to investment scams on average, says Barclays

Europe Digital Rules

Meta unveils latest AI model as chatbot competition intensifies

AI technology

Younger children increasingly online and unsupervised, Ofcom says

Migrant Channel crossing incidents

Ministers will be told to use AI to screen migrants for threats, adviser says

Nothing smartphone

UK tech firm Nothing to integrate ChatGPT into its devices

The Google offices in Six Pancras Square, London

Google confirms more job cuts as part of company reorganisation

Person using laptop

Housing association reprimanded after residents’ data compromised

A screengrab of an arrest in connection with the LabHost website

Arrests made and thousands of victims contacted after scammer site taken offline

Social media apps on a smartphone

Three-quarters of public fear misinformation will affect UK elections – report

Businessman racing with a robot

TUC calls for AI to be regulated in the workplace

The ChatGPT website

AI chatbot ‘could be better at assessing eye problems than medics’

FastRig wingsail launch

Scottish-made wingsail set for sea tests after launch on land


Rollout of eVisas begins as Government aims for digital immigration by 2025

Elon Musk in 2024

X may start charging new users to post, says Elon Musk