Fact or fake news? Here’s how you can teach your kid to tell them apart

July 21, 2019
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    Your growing child is bombarded by images every day, and he must learn to tell fact from fake news. The challenge is knowing how to make him “media savvy” so that he can make sense of what he sees on television, what he hears on radio, and what he reads in newspapers and billboards.  

    Try to get an overall idea of the different influences on his life. It’s not just about how much television and how many DVDs he watches – media includes tablets and smart phones (for games, videos and surfing), books, magazines, comics, newspapers, even advertising hoardings. Each of these different sources can have a strong effect on his understanding of things.

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  • Set limits
    2 / 10 Set limits

    While you can’t be around your child all of the time, you can set reasonable limits to cover, for example, how much time he is allowed to watch television each day, or when and how often he is allowed to use the Internet for surfing. Reach an agreement with your child on these limits and insist he sticks to them.

    Related: How reality TV affects children

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  • Teach Internet safety
    3 / 10 Teach Internet safety

    Kids are trusting by nature and they assume that people are honest. Yet there is a vast number of documented cases where adults have posed as children in order to create an improper relationship. Teach your child that he should never give out personal details to anyone online, and he should never arrange to meet an “online” friend.

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  • Start with yourself
    4 / 10 Start with yourself

    You can’t really expect your kid to be media savvy if you can’t find your way around. Become familiar with how the Internet work, chat room procedures, text messaging and e-mail, so that you know what you are talking about when you discuss with your child the way he uses these different technologies.

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  • Explain real vs reel
    5 / 10 Explain real vs reel

    Explain to your child that lots of media material is unreal. In real life, for example, people don’t have three lives, nor do they have extraordinary powers. Of course, he will immediately insist that he knows this already, but there is no harm in emphasising this point in order to discourage unnecessary risk-taking.

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  • Use positive programmes
    6 / 10 Use positive programmes

    Just seen a lousy movie? Dilute its impact on your child by letting him watch a good, child-centred show the next time you turn on the telly. That’s why it is important to ensure that he has a broad range of media stimulation, and that he doesn’t simply have one source.

    Related: Why does my child keep thinking about death?

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  •  Explain how ads work
    7 / 10 Explain how ads work

    Pick a few of his favourite advertisements and explain how they use subtle persuasive methods to encourage viewers to buy their product. You’re not teaching him there is something wrong with every ad, just that he shouldn’t accept every commercial at face value. Discuss the image that the ad is trying to create.

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  • Share experiences 
    8 / 10 Share experiences 

    Watching the small screen with your child, surfing the Net with him and using text messaging to keep in touch during the day enables you to talk about these features more easily. He is more likely to accept that you know what you are talking about.

    Related: Baby using the tablet? This is why it is a worse habit than watching TV

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  • Turn him onto other things 
    9 / 10 Turn him onto other things 

    You can help him keep media experiences in perspective, and limit their influence, by encouraging him to have a broad range of interests and activities in his daily routine. He should have lots of time to play with his peers, and to talk to his family and friends face-to-face.

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  • Give him space for free play 
    10 / 10 Give him space for free play 

    Your child can become so over-dependent on the computer or TV that he can’t think how to spend his free time any other way. So give him lots of time for unstructured time, and help him have the confidence to make his own choices about play activities.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

    Related: How Singapore parents teach their kids about fake news

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