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Schools around the world are now teaching children how to spot fake news

3 min read

Better Society
Schools around the world are now teaching children how to spot fake news
Source: CommenSenseMedia.org

By helping children distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake, you can teach them how to think for themselves, as well as gain a better understanding of the world.

How to Spot Fake News and Teach children to Be Media-Savvy

With terms like “fake news” and “alternative facts” now common in the media space, how do we ensure the news that filters down to our children is based in truth? With Clickbait, hyper-partisan opinion, and completely false information running wild across the internet, many schools are beginning to teach children how to determine for themselves what is the truth and what is a distortion or a lie.

Schools around the world are now teaching kids to spot fake news. These 8th graders in New York are having classes on how to spot fake news. Source: Facebook/QuartzNews

One child in five believes everything they read online is true

Teaching students to navigate the news with an analytical mind is an essential skill for students, argues Jonathan Douglas, director of the United Kingdom’s National Literacy Trust, 

Fake news. We’ve heard about it, we’ve seen it and we’ve probably even fallen for it. While fake news is not a new phenomenon, the rise of digital media has seen it gain unprecedented momentum – and notoriety – in recent months.

Young people growing up today are surrounded by digital technology. Whether they’re using an app on their mobile phone, reading a book on their tablet or doing their homework on a computer, technology is embedded in every part of their lives. This means that children today are highly likely to encounter fake news on a regular basis.

In this digital age, children who can’t question and determine the reliability of the information they find online will be hamstrung at school, at work, and in life. What’s more, fake news poses even wider societal threats to democracy, confidence in governance and trust in journalism.

More children than ever are using digital media as their main source of news, and one child in five believes everything they read online is true. So are we doing enough to equip young people with the critical literacy skills they need to navigate the potential pitfalls of the digital world and fake news?

This is the question at the heart of a new commission launched today by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy, in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, Facebook, First News and The Day. Over the next year, the commission will look at the impact of fake news on children and young people and examine the teaching of the critical literacy skills students need to identify it.

By bringing together the greatest minds and authorities on fake news and education, the commission will give us a fantastic opportunity to make the case for critical literacy to sit at the heart of our education system. We want every child to have the chance to develop the critical literacy skills they need to survive and thrive in a digital world.

We believe that teachers are the key to boosting children’s critical literacy skills, but we know that they simply can’t do this without proper training, support and resources. To overcome these barriers, we need to first hear from teachers about whether fake news is a problem in their classrooms and where they think key critical literacy skills should be taught.

Source: tes.com

In this digital age, children who can’t question and determine the reliability of the information they find online will be hamstrung at school, at work, and in life.
If it seems to good to be true…. In this digital age, children who can’t question and determine the reliability of the information they find online will be hamstrung at school, at work, and in life. Source: WilfredIven/Stocksnap

Some useful things to look out for when filtering for fake news

A lot of the best ways to spot fake news are things you would do anyway if you weren’t sure – like asking someone who you trust what they think.

But if you want to try to make sure that you don’t get caught out by fake news, there a few things you can look out for when you read something on social media. Ask yourself:

1. Has the story been reported anywhere else?

2. Is it on the radio, TV or in the newspapers?

3. Have you heard of the organisation that published the story?

4. Does the website where you found the story look genuine? (meaning it doesn’t look like a copycat website that’s designed to look like another genuine website)

5. Does the website address at the very top of the page look real? Is the end of the website something normal like ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.com’, and not something unusual, like ‘com.co’?

6. Does the photo or video look normal?

7. Does the story sound believable?

8. If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, you might want to check it out a bit more, before spreading the word.

And why not test yourself with a fake news quiz?

Source: BBC.co.uk

Make an Impact

Get involved!

You can access free teaching resources to use with your pupils. This includes a resource that takes you through the correct answers to the test questions in the pupil surveys and a booklet with ideas of how to embed critical literacy within your classroom. Further resources will be added during 2018. Create a free login to access the resources.