COVID Confusion: Navigating Pandemic Misinformation for Kids

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We are really fortunate to have so many ways we can  access information quickly amid the pandemic. Social media platforms and public health websites allow us to access information with the press of a button. 

Unfortunately, there is so much misinformation surrounding the pandemic, so it’s no surprise that it can be hard to tell what is legit and what is bogus.

And there are real dangers when it comes to getting false information about public health crises, including increased emotional distress (e.g., anxiety and fear) and making unwise personal health choices (e.g., not masking up indoors).

These dangers are especially felt by children, as they count on the adults around them for help deciding which information is helpful versus harmful.

Here are some strategies to help you and your kiddo navigate decision-making in these unprecedented times:

  1. Show your child where to find information from reliable public health agencies. Take a few minutes one afternoon to show your kiddo where to find accurate, reliable information online. Your local public health agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are great places to start. 
  2. Tell your children their actions can help the community. It helps children to let them know their actions directly impact their friends and the community. Tell them that they can be a leader among their peers and help steer the course of the pandemic by following recommended protocols. You can even give them extra masks and sanitizer to hand out to their friends! 
  3. Set up a conversation with your child and their healthcare provider. At their next check-up, ask your child to come up with some questions to ask their licensed physician. Your child’s physician will likely be grateful that younger folks are interested in stopping the spread. You can even help your kiddo come up with a list of questions the night before their appointment.
  4. Tell your child they can tell you or a supervising adult if they notice symptoms. Given that quarantine is a real possibility, your kiddo may struggle with wanting to report symptoms. Let them know that you, their teachers, coaches, and other adults are there to help them if they start feeling sick. Tell them it’s not their fault if they get sick, and they can help their friends by being honest and forthcoming.
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