Helping your child understand the news

Boy with an ipad

The news can be scary or confusing even for grown ups at times. That’s why it can be good to give your child a bit of support as they start to read or watch news stories themselves. You can share these tools with them to help them know when a piece of news is fake or misleading.

Spotting fake news

Sometimes a news story might look ordinary, but it’s actually made up and not true. This is called fake news. A news story might be fake if:

  • You’ve never heard of the organisation who published it
  • If it’s not shared by other news organisations you’ve heard of
  • If the website or page design looks unusual
  • There are lots of spelling mistakes
  • It doesn’t seem to quote any real people or organisations
  • It sounds casual and informal
  • The picture doesn’t match the story

Spotting biased news

Even if a news story is true, it might be biased. That means it’s trying to make the reader believe a specific take on events, rather than letting them make up their own mind. A news story might be biased if:

  • It only shows one side of the story
  • It’s trying to make you do or believe something
  • The headline is misleading
  • It only uses positive language or negative language to describe people and things
  • It includes the reporter’s opinions and feelings, rather than just the facts

Finding out the facts

Just because a piece of news sounds confident, that doesn’t mean it’s true. A good news story should tell you the facts. It’s not being factual if it:

  • Includes the reporter’s thoughts, feelings or opinions
  • The facts aren’t supported by quotes, statistics or data
  • If it’s just guessing at something or sharing a rumour

If you want to help your child get used to knowing what’s on the news, take a look at this list of child friendly news websites to help them get started.