We are in an information age where you can find anything in seconds and also get misinformed just as quickly.
It’s important that children ask questions about the reliability of information sources, and fact-check the media they consume.
They should be able to think whether it sounds off and have the tools to look up whether it’s fake or fact.
What is fake news?
Fake news is often a term used to describe articles, posts, or videos that are deliberately fabricated and masquerading as real news.
They are sometimes made by individuals looking to make the headlines for fame or may be used as clickbait or marketing to draw people into visiting different websites.
The term has come to encompass false stories in print, text, image, and video formats.
What kind of information is considered fake news?
Fake news can come in various forms, but it’s typically used to denote false information that is purposefully made to look like or masquerade as the truth. This often includes articles, posts, or videos that are deliberately fabricated and masquerading as typical real news.
It might be false statements about celebrities and public figures circulating on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.
Who creates fake news?
Many sources can be involved with the production of fake news. Still, typically it’s done by someone who wants to exploit a current event and do so to increase attention on themselves or a particular product.
Individuals behind these fake accounts will sometimes exploit current events to generate more traffic on their own websites or social media pages and may even earn money from advertisements.
Read more on ‘Why Teens Should Question Health Information On TikTok‘
How has technology affected the rise of fake news?
Technology has increased the number of ways individuals can share their opinions with others, but this also makes it easier for some people to manipulate audiences through disinformation.
Social media sites have become hotspots for fake news. Fake accounts can be created, and false stories can be written, then distributed quickly across the internet before traditional news sources can verify their validity.
How to recognize fake news?
Facebook released the below tips on how to spot false news online, in partnership with The News Literacy Project, The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and Stony Brook University School of Journalism.
1. Be skeptical of headlines.
False news stories often have catchy headlines in all caps with exclamation points. If shocking claims in the headline sound unbelievable, they probably are.
2. Look closely at the link.
A phony or look-alike link may be a warning sign of false news. Many false news sites mimic authentic news sources by making small changes to the link. You can go to the site to compare the link to established sources.
3. Investigate the source.
Ensure that the story is written by a source that you trust with a reputation for accuracy. If the story comes from an unfamiliar organization, check their “About” section to learn more.
4. Watch for unusual formatting.
Many false news sites have misspellings or awkward layouts. Read carefully if you see these signs.
5. Consider the photos.
False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. Sometimes the photo may be authentic but taken out of context. You can search for the photo or image to verify where it came from.
6. Inspect the dates.
False news stories may contain timelines that make no sense or event dates that have been altered.
7. Check the evidence.
Check the author’s sources to confirm that they are accurate. Lack of evidence or reliance on unnamed experts may indicate a false news story.
8. Look at other reports.
If no other news source is reporting the same story, it may indicate that the story is false. If the story is written by multiple sources you trust, it’s more likely to be true.
9. Is the story a joke?
Sometimes false news stories can be hard to distinguish from humor or satire. Check whether the source is known for parody and whether the story’s details and tone suggest it may be just for fun.
10. Some stories are intentionally false.
Think critically about the stories you read, and only share news that you know to be credible.”
Here’s a great video summarizing these points:
Teach Teens To Fact Check: How Your Students Can Confidently Verify News Sources
Fact-checking is an important skill for teens to learn.
Media can be a powerful influence on beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.
Teens must be able to recognize and evaluate the information they consume to form their own conclusions.
Here are some simple strategies for teaching them how to spot fake news online.
1. Start by teaching them how to find more information about the topic they’re interested in. This could be as easy as pointing them towards relevant sources using a search engine or talking about credible sources like Wikipedia. Point out that not all search results are accurate and that a single article does not tell the whole story.
There are several online tools like Snopes.com that exist specifically for investigating fake stories online. These are excellent resources to quickly fact-check any story.
Snopes.com – An independent fact-checking website that aims to separate fact from fiction. They have various tools, including a searchable database of fake news and hoaxes circulating online.
wikiHow – A general-purpose wiki for everything from productive living to effective altruism to how to bake cupcakes.
Wikipedia – Did you know that Wikipedia has a whole section for teaching students to be responsible editors of the site? An excellent tool for teachers to integrate this into their lessons.
Watch the video to discover 4 more fact-checking sites for tweens and teens:
2. Teens should also know how to scrutinize the content of what they’re reading. Does it match up with other sources? Are there any logical fallacies being used? Are there any emotions being used to sway them into believing something?”
3. It’s also essential for teens to know how to evaluate the source itself. In many cases, a glance at a source might not be enough. They should look into who created and distributed that content and what kind of bias they have. They should ask themselves if the information is objective or just trying to sell them on an idea.
4. Teachers can also provide students with trustworthy news sources. Provide examples that students can look to for quality information. While teachers may not have time to point out fake news, they can point out news stories that they consider high quality and accurate.
5. You can also encourage students to ask questions about the validity of a reported story. Asking questions can help those who read information online to think critically about what they see in front of them.
How To Teach Teens to Fact Check Media: Key Takeaways:
Teaching teens how to check their sources’ reliability is vital for more than just your students’ safety.
The skills they learn now can help them in future life-changing situations, like if they need to quickly find information about medical treatments or if a friend needs help.
- Try asking questions about the validity of a reported story. This can help those who read information online to think critically about what they see in front of them.
- Let students know that not every search result is accurate and that one article does not tell the whole story.
- Provide students with sources of quality information, such as The New York Times or the BBC, and point out any time there might be fake news on these sites as well.
- Point out when emotional appeals are being used to sway readers into believing certain things.
Finally, we need to make space in our conversations for complexity. Debunking the Aztec apocalypse was much easier than detangling political strife we see in the news. Beyond conspiracy theories (and there are plenty of those), there is also a tendency to tell, in Chimamanda Adichie’s words, a single story that misrepresents the breadth and depth of a situation. We need to help our kids understand that multiple things can be true at the same time, and we can do so both by example in the stories we tell and by asking questions about the stories they read.
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