Helping Kids Understand Fake News

by Kristie Burk, DASD Coordinator of Cyber and Blended Learning

After the election, we’ve been hearing a lot about “fake news,” fabricated stories that are masquerading as real news. Lots of fingers are pointing at Facebook, which is known for allowing fake news to slip into its newsfeed, but other social media outlets are also to blame.

Children, in particular, are vulnerable to clickbait, alluring stories that purposefully attempt to attract readers with sensational or controversial headlines. For example, a Stanford University study set to be released on Tuesday says that 82% (!!) of middle school students cannot tell the difference between a news post and an advertisement.

“Teens also can learn basic skills used by professional fact-checkers, Dr. Wineburg says. Rather than trusting the “about” section of a website to learn about it, teach them “lateral reading”—leaving the website almost immediately after landing on it and research the organization or author.” – Sue Shellenbarger

I read about the study this morning all over the news (yes, the real news), but I liked the perspective in this article called “Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds,” by Sue Shellenbarger. The article is aimed at helping parents teach their children to be more media-savvy, but it also contains useful information for all educators.


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