Keeping the elderly safe from misinformation regarding COVID-19
In this day and age when technology has brought us all kinds of comforts in our lives, it has brought along some never-before-seen challenges as well. One of those challenges is the spread of misinformation. All of us encounter misleading facts, statements or information on daily basis. Be it teenagers, adults or older people everyone at some point in their lives falls prey to misinformation. The realm of internet is so vast and since anyone with a gadget, that comfortably fits in the palm of your hand can write anything on the internet makes every single one of us vulnerable to misinformation. Navigating through an ocean of obscurantism can be painstakingly difficult for everyone in general and our older population in specific. Research indicates that older people are far more likely to be the victims of misinformation than any other age group. They not only are more likely to succumb to misinformation but are also more likely to share it with others, thus making them rapid spreaders of distorted information and that’s how it becomes a chain reaction.
And when the world is in a precarious situation as it is in today, the internet becomes a cesspool of misinformation. In times of crisis it’s very easy to fall victim to false information online as well as to become a spreader of it. You or someone you know might have fallen for someone’s attempt to disinform you about current events. But it’s not always your fault. There is a plethora of misinformation out there and as long as there are those who believe it, there will always be those who spread it without doing their due diligence. So, how exactly can we avoid all that nuisance and particularly teach our seniors at home who are less apt to technology?
They need to pay attention to where the news comes from:
When reading a news, we should make sure that whatever the news they are getting they need to make sure where it is coming from. So, for example if it’s coming through social media like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram they should be wary of that. The articles or posts shared on social media can be to promote a certain cause by any means necessary. If they benefit a certain individual, party or group they can be false information. For example, the U.S. Department of State recently identified disinformation campaigns about the coronavirus in Europe. In those cases, strident claims about dangers to residents were made in order to undermine the government. Even Bill Gates became a target of a COVID-19 conspiracy theory.
Checking the sources within news articles
When you are reading a news article always double check the sources cited in the article. Pay special attention to the way they were they were referenced. Big news outlets like CNN, BBC, The New York Times have a set of professional ethics. They usually name their sources properly. In some cases, to conceal the identity of the source they might not mention the source. Any news articles without attributions should be looked upon skeptically.
Don’t just read the headings
It’s imperative to read the full article and not just the heading. Headings are to attract your attention and they are not the news themselves. So, always read the full article and not just the headings.
Always cross check
It’s always a good idea to search the article or the bit that you have read somewhere properly. Thanks to internet search options it is very easy to check if the information you got has an authenticated source or it was just a figment of somebody’s wild imagination.
Double check the chain messages
We all have family groups on WhatsApp or other social media platforms. We all know there is always at least one person in those groups who shares everything he receives without confirming it. The best practice is to check the information if it is accurate and then correct the person spreading it right away to break the chain.
Taking some help from math
People spreading misinformation often use false statistics to make it look accurate. Their whole agenda lies on the naivetes of simpletons. They usually quote CDC or other agencies but will always bend the facts to fit their agenda. Fact checking statistics is very easy. Statistics are always easily available on official websites.
See if the information you read causes intense feelings
If something you read causes intense feelings like emotional outrage, it should always be double or triple checked. This kind of information is most of the times inaccurate. So, if you find yourself furious after reading something it is the best idea to go online and check if it really is true or not.
Some common ways to get you to believe that the information you read is authentic
There are some very common methods by which people tend to spread false information effectively. They usually play with your emotions, make you feel good, make an extraordinary claim or confirm something you have already thought of.
The solution to all the menaces of technologies lies in technology in the end. The best practice to avoid misinformation is to go online and simply do a little search. It only take a few minutes to spot correct information from false information.
It is an easy task to teach your elderly relatives how to search for something online. If they are not that tech savvy and still find it difficult to google something you can ask them to confirm the information, with you or anybody from your family before believing it to be absolutely authentic. They taught you well when you were a kid now it’s your turn to return the favor. Be safe and keep your kindred safe.
The healthcare professionals at Kandakacare can also help you fend off COVID-19 myths and conspiracies. You are always welcome to share the information you got with us and we’ll be glad to help you understand COVID-19 in depth.
Fake news on Facebook: Elderly users are more likely to spread misinformation https://www.foxnews.com/tech/fake-news-on-facebook-elderly-more-likely-to-spread-misinformation
Bill Gates Is Now A Target Of COVID-19 Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2020/04/19/bill-gates-is-now-a-target-of-covid-19-coronavirus-conspiracy-theories/#7ce9a5366227
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