Parents show trust in fake online news as children seethe

By Li Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/27 0:03:41

"Washing your hair in the morning is ruining your body." That's the third WeChat article my mother shared with me a few days ago. The other two say, "Don't eat seaweed! They are made of plastic," and "Eating tadpoles can cure disease."

It seems that I'm not the only one suffering from such irritating information. Many of my friends' parents believe firmly in such WeChat stories and love to send them to their children. To attract attention, some WeChat accounts tend to fill their articles with sensational "health tips," exaggerating facts and criticizing routine habits.

Why are our parents so immersed in these ridiculous rumors? It could be because these WeChat accounts really understand how and what middle-aged people think. Probably they understand them more than their children.

Quite a number of people in their 40s or 50s are not so familiar with the internet, and they tend to believe that it is the ultimate authority in everything from hair care to international politics. Besides, parents pay more attention to their health as they step into old age. They tend to be oversensitive and even suspicious of all "disease-causing food" labeled so by the internet, including salt, sugar, giblets and all kinds of meat.

These stories can be harmful. Someone may totally give up salt after reading an article that exaggerates the damage it can do to the body. The fear of getting high blood pressure may make the person shun the essential ingredient of any diet. This could lead to goiter, which is caused by deficiency of iodine, which is generally added to packaged salt.

Though it is hard to wean away parents from trusting false information in cyberspace, can they be really blamed?

As children live a fast-paced life, they may have little time to pay attention to what their parents are reading on their smartphones. Although it is easier for children to tell fake news from credible information, they can't do it in the absence of sufficient communication with parents.

"I'm worried and sometimes angry," said a friend who tried to stop his parents from reading such ludicrous articles. "How can my dad believe rumors and not me? I have now given up persuading them," he said.

WeChat should work harder to avoid spreading fake news. Fortunately, it has set up an official account called Rumor Filter and blocked a large number of such articles. Besides, setting keywords can also be a good way to avoid receiving such spam.

Most importantly, we should help our parents change their attitude toward food. Balanced meals and regular exercise are always encouraged, and totally cutting off sugar or salt will never help. Parents should also be vigilant as most such articles are actually meant to sell defective products, and there is no real science behind them.

We shouldn't be impatient with our parents or harangue them to reject fake news. They should be persuaded gently. After all, they send us these articles out of love and concern.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. liqingqing@globaltimes.com.cn



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