Pandemic myths are all over social media—and they’re dangerous for kids

YouTube is cracking down on anti-vax accounts, but misinformation can still creep into teens’ lives. Here’s how parents can help them navigate.

After Stephanie Africk handed her daughter a mask while leaving their Boston home, she was stunned to hear what her 13-year-old had to say: “Masks don’t work, and kids don’t even get COVID.” The position went against science—and everything her family had discussed.

Where’d the teen get this information? Social media. “She got the information—or misinformation—from someone on TikTok who she respects and believes.”

Pandemic misinformation recently prompted YouTube to ban the accounts of several popular anti-vaxxers, as well as other content that promotes false information about vaccines. But it’s not just COVID-19 misinformation that teens can be exposed to on social media. A 2017 report from Common Sense Media—released just after the 2016 election—reported that 31 percent of kids who shared a news story online later discovered it was inaccurate.

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