Internet Matters today releases tips for parents to help children who might see potentially upsetting content online as well as fake news or misinformation.

More children will have turned to online sources including social media to discover the facts and follow the commentary and tributes following the sad news of The Queen’s passing.

It comes on top of what has been a tumultuous period in recent years, with headlines on Covid, Ukraine, and the cost-of-living crisis dominating the news agenda.

The tips from child psychologist and Internet Matters ambassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos help parents encourage their children to apply critical thinking to what they are seeing on their feeds, as well as how to speak to them about potential emotionally distressing content they might see online.

Latest research from not-for-profit organisation Internet Matters reveals 65% of parents are concerned about exposure to fake news and misinformation, up from 46% in 2020. A recent Ofcom report also showed that only 11% of 12–17-year-olds managed to identify genuine parts of a social media post used to test their ability to tell what’s real and what is fake online.

CEO of Internet Matters, Carolyn Bunting MBE, said: “The last few days have been an incredibly emotional and sad time which has been felt across the whole world. Following a period where we’ve experienced one global event after another, it is inevitable that children will continuously see information played out online and it can be difficult for them to avoid. 

We know that this can be upsetting and confusing for some children, particularly as misinformation and disinformation can also spread quickly and this isn’t always easy for parents to monitor.

For parents who are worried about the impact this may have on their children we’re sharing some tips to help them speak to their children about the content they will see online.”

Dr Linda Papadopoulos, Internet Matters ambassador and child psychologist, said: Upsetting content can leave children feeling confused and overwhelmed which may be shown through signs of worrying or ‘over-empathising’. There may also be a lot of questions about what they are seeing as they become more curious. 

The Queen’s death will sensitise children to think about loss more. The more ubiquitous the coverage is the more likely they are to amplify its importance and to think about it in relation to how it impacts them. They may project feelings onto those close to them and ask questions about the well-being and health of their grandparents and older relatives. There may be questions around death and dying that they are curious about.

You want to give them a sense of control – the content may also make them feel a sense of uncertainty. Speaking with children to provide them with a sense of security and comfort is key. Parents can help their children to express how they feel about what they see online and encourage them to question things if they don’t seem right.” 

Dr Linda Papadopoulos’s five tips:

  1. Talk to your child about the possibility of seeing a higher volume of news/videos that might be upsetting – encourage them to check with you first before they watch a video or read an article or post they are not sure about.
  1. Speak to them to understand what your child is consuming online and the impact this may be having on their overall wellbeing. Guide them towards sources of information that are credible to avoid giving them a distorted view of what is actually happening.
  1. If your child is reading things that aren’t true, discuss where the information comes from, whether it’s credible, and ask them to question whether it is real. If you can teach them critical thinking then they can judge for themselves what is real vs what’s fake.
  1. If your child does see something that upsets them, discuss what they have seen and how it has made them feel to assess what emotional support they may need.
  1. If they have shared fake news or content that could upset others, encourage them to put it right. You can help them post out the messages with appropriate sensitivity -it helps normalise this behaviour in the child’s environment and encourage others to do the same.
  • For more information on how to keep your children safe online and step by step guides, visit