These days kids who grew up with the internet may believe everything they’re watching is the real deal. But there are plenty of people making videos to distort reality, resulting in confused kids (and adults). These are called deepfake videos, and they are becoming more prevalent, making it necessary for parents to help kids determine what’s real and what’s not.
Deepfake Videos: Definition
Deepfake videos are defined as videos that looks real because they use real people. The problem is that the actors in these videos are doing and saying things the real person never said or did. Advanced technology and artificial intelligence make this possible.
The above image is an example. The original clip comes from a 2016 Golden Globe Awards clip featuring Jennifer Lawrence, and the deepfake has Steve Buscemi’s head superimposed over her body. While this was done as a joke, it shows how far these deepfake videos have come.
Caroline Knorr, Senior Parenting Editor for Common Sense Media, tells Parentology that deepfake videos are becoming more authentic, so it’s more difficult to figure out what’s credible and what’s not.
“Deepfakes tend to promote conspiracies,” Knorr says. “Topics that tend to be lightning rods, controversial issues, and anything that’s a popular topic of discussion could be a potential subject for a deep fake.”
Deepfake videos can often involve politics and politicians, and this is where the real dangers begin.
Helping Kids Spot a Deepfake Video
The creators of deepfake videos tend to be anonymous people motivated by attention. Although they’re very tech-savvy, these telltale signs could signal you have an immitator on your hands:
- The audio doesn’t sync perfectly.
- Unusual shadowing.
- It doesn’t match what you know to be true.
Although adults may be able to sort fact from fiction, the same can’t be said for kids. They may be aware deepfakes exist, but spotting them is another story.
“In research we’ve done on teens understanding the news, and their ability to determine credible news from fake news, they say they’re not able to tell what’s real and what’s fake,” Knorr says.
Some politicians are trying to help parents when it comes to dealing with deepfake videos. In July 2019, US House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff, wrote letters to the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google. He wanted to know what the companies’ formal policies are on deepfake videos and what technology is being used to find them. As of this writing, there has been no public response.
As a parent, there are things you can do at home to prevent your kids from being duped. Knorr says one of the most important things is to talk about media literacy.
“Teach your kids ways to determine who created something and why, what their point of view is and the context of that piece of information,” Knorr suggests. This not only helps kids determine if they’re being manipulated, but can teach them how to become better digital citizens.
Another tip? Ask your child what in the information they’re seeing supports their conclusions about it. Knorr says this can help to remove some of the personal bias people bring to the table when evaluating information. The makers of deepfake videos prey on vulnerability, which is why it’s important to evaluate things on their own merits.
Talking to your kids about the responsibility people have as creators and teaching them to determine the credibility of the information they’re interacting with can also help them.
“If it’s a website, look at the URL and find out what it’s associated with,” Knorr adds. You can also visit the “about us” section on the site to check for credibility.
Deepfake Videos Definition — Sources
Caroline Knorr, Senior Parenting Editor for Common Sense Media