Daily Bulletin

News

  • Written by Joanne Orlando, Researcher: Technology and Learning, Western Sydney University
Don't fall for it: a parent's guide to protecting your kids from online hoaxes

It’s a parent’s responsibility to protect their children from harm, no matter where that threat of harm comes from. But what if the threat is a hoax?

We’ve seen recently a rollercoaster of panic from parents trying to protect their kids from a supposed online threat known as the Momo challenge, that has for months been debunked as a hoax.

Yet the panic from parents continued, as did reports in the media and even warnings from celebrites – all of which could have been avoided if parents had done a few simple checks before raising the alarm.

So how can you as a parent protect your children (and yourself) from falling for these hoaxes if you don’t even know whether something is not a genuine threat in the first place?

Before I give some help and advice on that, let’s look at this latest hoax: the Momo challenge.

The Momo challenge

Momo is a ghoulish character who is said to use social media and other online tools to encourage youngsters to complete dangerous tasks involving self-harm.

But the whole Momo challenge is a manufactured myth.

The creepy image was copied from a sculpture by Japanese special-effects company Link Factory. Its use in the hoax was condemned by its original artist several months ago.

Even this revelation did not stop the spread – of both the hoax and the warnings about it – continuing for several months afterwards.

The Momo challenge is just the latest in a series of manufactured online hoaxes designed to generate paranoia among adults.

Other online hoaxes

We’ve had the “blue whale challenge”, allegedly linked to numerous teen deaths around the world. The trend later turned out to be a fake.

We were told the deadly TidePod challenge was encouraging kids to be filmed while eating poisonous laundry detergent pods (they weren’t).

There was also a challenge that linked kids choking to death to snorting condoms for more YouTube likes (no deaths have been reported).

These hoaxes are carefully designed to grab your attention and incite shock and panic, so you share the information with everyone you know. The designers of the hoax callously tap directly into parents’ Achilles heel: their fears regarding their children’s safety.

Posting the hoax online fits the designer’s aim perfectly because it can travel far and wide online very quickly. This is of course a win from the perpetrators’ perspective, whose very aim is to go viral! The more attention they get, the more profit or fame.

What parents should do to help protect your kids from such hoaxes

Hoaxes that threaten your kids one day, and turn out to be fake the next, are mentally and emotionally exhausting for kids and adults. Parents can feel an increasing lack of control.

But this doesn’t need to be the case. There are tools and tricks you can apply to help you spot a hoax.

1. Investigate: see if it’s real

Information about any so-called challenge is often shared on social media, where fake news and misleading information is rife.

If you are concerned about a hoax it’s important to investigate, by using a reputable news website or a reliable fact-checking site such as Snopes or FullFact.

Both are good fact-checking resources that gives readers evidence-based analysis (Snopes and FullFact have both published content on Momo).

Even a simple web search of the name of any supposed threat can help you. Add the words “hoax” or “scam” to your search queries and you will very quickly see if there is any real evidence to support the claims of harm you may be hearing about.

2. Help your child investigate authenticity

Use the opportunity to educate your child about these online challenges. When you hear about one, go online with your child and investigate.

This is the perfect opening to help your child understand fake content online. Explain why someone would want to start a hoax to scare people (for example, to achieve fame).

3. Explore alternatives for viewing

You may be concerned about your child using online video streaming services such as YouTube or Facebook, where they could be exposed to any hoax video.

As an alternative, look for other ways for your children to view their favoured content.

Many of the popular shows that kids watch online also have their own apps with pre-screened videos: for example PBS kids videos and Disney Channel app.

4. Avoid causing unnecessary alarm

It’s important to be careful about sharing news articles that perpetuate a hoax or myth with other adults.

Before sharing potentially wrong information, do some internet research of your own to check out the accuracy of any threat.

5. Be a critical, alert consumer

We live our lives on the internet, and there is a mass of misleading online information designed to manipulate our thinking.

It’s important to read and stay up to date about how the online world operates, and to be critical of what you view and read online.

Ask yourself some basic questions such as:

  • who is going to benefit from this online post/article?

  • what is the underlying purpose of it?

  • is the author/creator trying to sway my thinking, and why?

6. What if you think a threat is genuine?

Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms have options to report anything you think may be a serious threat. If you’re still worried, call your local police.

The online space is always changing. Keeping you and your kids safe online involves being aware of emerging and new safety issues, and committing to a bit of research before you panic.

Authors: Joanne Orlando, Researcher: Technology and Learning, Western Sydney University

Read more http://theconversation.com/dont-fall-for-it-a-parents-guide-to-protecting-your-kids-from-online-hoaxes-113179


The Conversation

Politics

Prime Minister on the Alan Jones Show

ALAN JONES: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Alan, how are you? Good to hear you back on the air.   JONES: Thank you. Thank you very much. Can I just - there's a lot...

Alan Jones - avatar Alan Jones

The Greens side with activists, not farmers

The Greens’ Agriculture Spokesperson, Senator Janet Rice, today made some disgraceful comments in relation to the Government’s tough new penalties for keyboard warriors who incite activists to inv...

Senator Bridget McKenzie - avatar Senator Bridget McKenzie

Scott Morrison interview with Alan Jones - 2GB

ALAN JONES: The Prime Minister's on the line from Melbourne, Prime Minister good morning. PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Alan ALAN JONES:  thank you for your time. I wish we had three hours but look...

Alan Jones - avatar Alan Jones

Business News

Tips To Ensure The Best B2B Ecommerce Customer Experience

The B2B ecommerce space offers an incredible array of opportunities. It is has registered growth at more than double the size of B2C ecommerce. These tips will help you greatly in improving your cu...

News Company - avatar News Company

Multi-channel Ecommerce And Its Unparalleled Benefits

With severe competition within the ecommerce industry nowadays, exercising measures for expansion has become crucial. When you’re planning to dive into areas of growing your business into a full-fle...

News Company - avatar News Company

Top 5 Reasons Businesses Are Shifting From Magento To Shopify

Although building an online business has been made simpler by the extensive use of the internet, maintaining its success is a journey rather than a destination. It involves critical decisions made a...

News Company - avatar News Company

Travel

DEAL: Kids stay and eat for FREE these school holidays!

Take these school holidays to the next level with the ultimate family escape at PARKROYAL Darling Harbour. What’s more, kids under 12 years of age, can stay and eat for FREE! ...

Liana Gardy - avatar Liana Gardy

How to Book a Hotel for Your Vietnam Trip

Finding a travel destination may turn out to be challenging at times. You may have a long bucket list, which leaves you spoilt for choice on where to visit first. Going through travel blogs and site...

News Company - avatar News Company

New Allianz data reveals the ‘forgotten’ European countries attracting Australian travellers this winter

FROM SPAIN TO THE UKRAINE - THE SURPRISE EUROPEAN DESTINATIONS BOOMING WITH AUSSIE TOURISTS Australian travellers are seeking new destinations beyond the Mediterranean when it comes to European...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

ShowPo