On YouTube or TikTok, you may come across the strangest stories. Chances are your kids are seeing or reading things online that are meant to mislead them. Shielding your child from it is a nearly impossible task, but with these four tips from Mediawijs, you’ll empower your child and make them think about it.
1. Talk to your child(ren) regularly about the news.
Just as you ask how things went at school, occasionally ask if your child has seen anything new/funny/surprising online. Or tell them yourself what you heard or read, and what it does to you. This certainly doesn’t have to be just about heavy news events; playful topics can just be an ideal conversation starter.
2. Dare to ask questions.
Does your child make a statement that strikes you as odd? Then certainly don’t judge them, but ask further. Where exactly did he/she hear it? Who said it? Does he/she think it is real?
For example, a lot of children look up to influencers and what they have to say, even though those influencers don’t necessarily know more than others. Pass that along to your child as well: just because someone has a strong opinion or comes across as convincing doesn’t mean that person is an expert on the topic.
Explore the real story together.
3. Explain your approach.
Tell your child which messages you doubt and why. This is the ideal way to show how you seek out and verify information.
Show how you can manipulate messages and why this sometimes happens. For example, point out to your child that candy is often presented as healthy with lots of images of fruit, when in fact it is not.
No one can know everything. Neither can you. Does your child overload you with questions you don’t know the answer to yourself? Then admit that honestly before you say something that may not be true. Tell them to take some time to look it up, or just do it together.
4. Search together for news channels tailored to your child.
There are many fun, reliable news channels today tailored to children and young people.
For children in Flanders, for example, there is Karrewiet on Ketnet. You can even find this youth news channel on TikTok (@karrewiet). There are also many places for young people. Take a look together on the Instagram feed of @nws.nws.nws. Also, be sure to encourage your teen to listen to the news on the radio or watch the news with them.
If they come across a strange story online, from now on they can immediately check what the reliable channels they follow have to say about it.