Written: July 2020
Although we wrote this article early on in the coronavirus pandemic, it will still be helpful for your family as things develop and new information on coronavirus continues to become available.
With the vast amount of information that is available relating to Coronavirus, from watching the news on TV, to reading news articles, to being sent YouTube videos on whatsapp all talking about the current pandemic. Such messages can sometimes be quite worrying and leave us feeling overwhelmed, which is completely normal.
Advancements in social media mean that Information can be easily shared and accessed, sometimes without attempts to fact-check the information and content. Although social media is a great tool for keeping yourself up to date with developments around Coronavirus, it can also provide an avenue for sharing content that intentionally misleads the public. You may have heard the term, ‘fake news’ to make reference to such misleading information.
There are a number of reasons as to why platforms or individuals might intentionally spread misleading information. For instance, they may wish to influence the public into supporting a particular view or cause. Unfortunately, the spread of fake news can contribute to anxieties, cause stress and in some cases cause harm. We understand the difficulties associated with attempting to identify reliable sources of information and want you to know that you are not alone. We have put together some short key tips to support you with this process so you can be more confident in the content you and your family come across online.
Tip 1 - Reliability
One of the ways in which we can check the reliability of information we receive is to check the credentials of the information. This means checking where the information has come from. For example, you might get broadcasted messages sent to you from friends and family on whatsapp, forwarded from all over the country and sometimes world about the pandemic; it’s important to check that the information is accurate by looking to confirm with a reliable source. A good tip is to look at the ‘about us’ or ‘who we are’ sections.
Tip 2 - Current v Not Current
It is important to check the date of the source of information to ensure you are accessing the most up-to-date information and guidance. The date of the material will usually appear at the top of the article, but sometimes at the bottom too.
Tip 3 - Images at face value
You may have encountered stories or images which portray hospitals as overrun or unsafe on account of the current pandemic. These images or articles may not be representative of what is actually happening where you are and can be misleading. It is important to remember that a health professional’s priority is to ensure you are healthy and kept safe. Always try to seek medical advice if you are mentally or physically unwell by calling 101, or 999 when in crisis.
Tip 4 - Who benefits?
Ask yourself whether the article or video content is one sided, is it trying to insight hatred, anger or fear? Articles of this nature are usually unhelpful and do not necessarily provide a balanced perspective, and instead might cause you some anxiety. Try to reflect on whether the source is provoking negative feelings within you, and whether you might need to take a step back and look to other sources for information.
Understandably, with the vast amount of information there is out there, sometimes it might feel like a task to navigate what may or may not be reliable, but try to ask yourself: is it reliable? Is it current? Does it paint an accurate picture of events? Is it biased? However, it’s also okay to not always know in the moment - ask a friend or family member if you're not sure, and if you ever start to feel overwhelmed, consider taking a step back. Remember we are here for you too, if you feel like your family needs support, you can self-refer into See, Hear, Respond here.