A particular advantage of the Internet is fast and easy communication. Most often, we use social networks and messenger services for this purpose. However, usually only those who write and chat with each other know what it’s all about. The contents remain hidden from the outside. That’s a good thing, too, because after all, some things you only want to discuss with your best friend or with mom.
However, people also use these communication channels who have other intentions than keeping personal things to themselves. They want to spread false news and manipulate opinions. What we know as fake news from news portals or Twitter is also increasingly taking place in hidden, i.e. dark, networks. This is referred to as dark social because there is no insight into the communication. No one can control whether the Internet is abused in this way. Radicals or people with extreme political views use chat groups to target people and build trust. They sneak into such chats through others, spreading messages that others forward carelessly.
This is a danger not only for children and teenagers, because it feels like chatting with friends or family via the smartphone. Messages you get in what should be a private chat group look credible because you know the person who shared them. One assumes quite unthinkingly that the report is actually true and does not question it. In this way, false reports can spread quickly and opinions can be manipulated.
No matter where you get information from, you should question it critically and not believe everything. That is certainly easy to say. A tip: You should be careful and better check news items that particularly stir or excite you emotionally. Can you find references to it elsewhere? Research the news story on the Internet and look at a variety of sources. Think about where the information came from and who spread it. Even if a friend, close confidant or relative writes, in many cases it’s worth just asking. You and your child should be especially critical when casual acquaintances or contacts spread information. In Messenger groups, too, you should be sensitive to fake news, hate speech, and insults to individual groups.
When your child recognizes that you, as a parent, are critical of information, you encourage such behavior in your child as well. Explain to him why some people manipulate information and how to handle information.
Young people in particular are constantly looking for role models and want to feel they belong. They build up their own values and ideals, which can be negatively influenced by third parties.