Media, misinformation and scams

At present, it is difficult to visit a website, turn on a television, listen to a radio or open a newspaper without being confronted by COVID-19.

Even social media apps have introduced links and pop ups for information about the virus. While it is important to stay informed, it is just as important to be mindful of the fake news and misinformation that is being spread across the internet.

How can I protect my child?

  • Select one or two trustworthy and reputable information sources for your news, to avoid false reports and unscientific claims. The major news services provide regular online, television and radio bulletins.
  • Encourage your child to check how reliable and credible the sources are.
  • Teach them skills like respect, responsibility,  resilience and critical reasoning — it is never too early to instill good habits and these skills will help them make sense of the information they are consuming.
  • Set safety, security and privacy settings on devices, games and apps at an age appropriate level.
  • Be aware of scams and teach your child how to spot and avoid online scams.
  • Set boundaries around your own screen use and stick to them — this can help maintain balance and provide a positive example for your child.
  • Be an upstander by calling out bad behaviour and ensuring that the content you share online is respectful and honest.
  • Ensure they know where they can turn to for help — you can have more conversations about online safety at home, tell them about helplines or support networks, or provide them with the tips listed in this advice.

What can I do if my child is feeling scared or anxious?

  • Turn off notifications and use apps or built in features to monitor or limit how much time you and your child spend online.
  • Try other activities like reading something you enjoy or playing games.
  • Look for positive stories of people who are working to minimise COVID-19, caring for sick people, showing acts of kindness or collaborating in community efforts.
  • Reach out to people in your child’s support network to see if they can provide online or telephone support.
  • Regularly check in to see if your child is okay. Let them know that you are there for them and that they can talk to you anytime. Then do something fun together!