Our kids get information and news from a wide variety of sources, but determining what is fact and what is fiction can be a big challenge.
A recent study out of Stanford show that adolescents are struggling. Researchers found "a dismaying inability by students to reason about information they see on the Internet . . . Students, for example, had a hard time distinguishing advertisements from news articles or identifying where information came from."
Here are some of my favorite recent articles on the issue of helping tweens and teens determine the best news sources. These pieces address how parents and teachers can help kids learn to ask the right questions and gain the skills necessary to evaluate sources.
"Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds" from The Wall Street Journal, which offers a good summary of the Stanford study and also shares what a few different parents are doing to help their kids.
"Preteens and teens may appear dazzlingly fluent, flitting among social-media sites, uploading selfies and texting friends. But they’re often clueless about evaluating the accuracy and trustworthiness of what they find.
Some 82% of middle-schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled 'sponsored content' and a real news story on a website, according to a Stanford University study of 7,804 students from middle school through college."
"The Honest Truth about Fake News … and How Not to Fall for It (with Lesson Plan)" from KQED, which makes the good point that fake news is not new to the American political landscape and offers suggestions for helping kids discern the truth, including a great cheat sheet.
"It’s incumbent on educators, the study authors note, to show students how to be more discerning about the information they consume. In other words, how to identify fact from fiction and not to be a sucker.
“But the only way we can deal with these kinds of issues are through educational programs and recognizing that the kinds of things that we worry about, the ability to determine what is reliable and not reliable, that is the new basic skill in our society,” said [Sam Wineburg, a history and education professor at Stanford University].
"6 Questions From Newsela That Teach Students to Distinguish Between Fake News and the Real Thing" from the74million.org, which is aimed at teachers but applicable to parents, too, because our kids need to develop skills to evaluate sources now and for the rest of their lives.
"Those annotated questions — who wrote the article, what type of content is it, what evidence supports the facts, what is the interpretation of the fact, does it tell both sides of the story, and where can more information about the topic be located — have found their way into more Newsela articles than just those about fake news.
'We have been layering those questions into news articles about any news, trying to get students into this habit,' Coogan says. 'I think they are very flexible questions you can apply to anything.'"
"Fact-Checking Tools for Tweens and Teens" from Common Sense Media
"Sites that let kids verify the information they see in news stories, videos, and other sources are crucial to separate fact from fiction," according to Common Sense. This article lists and links sites that they can consider to be most helpful to adolescents trying to discern the truth, including FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and Snopes. For younger kids, check out Common Sense's list Best News Sources for Kids.
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