Through the internet, we are exposed to more information than any other time in history. This makes telling fact from fiction extremely difficult for anyone, especially young people who can be influenced by emotions more easily than adults. The news bubble that surrounds them can make them oblivious to the fact that a lot of the stuff they read on the internet may not be true or sincere.
In a 2015 news literacy program by the Stanford initiative, students were asked to scan the pages of minimumwage.com and see whether the website is authentic or not. Judging by its professionally designed pages, they contended that the website’s (false) information is unbiased. Unfortunately, fake news examples for high school students don’t stop there.
But as their parents and teachers, it’s our responsibility to teach teenagers about ways to spot fake news and not be influenced by it. We will talk about it in this article.
Fake News, Misinformation, and Disinformation
Fake news is false information that is often1 propagated with malicious intent. It has the appearance of reliable news but its sources are unclear or unverified. Sometimes the news or the platform on which it is published is so well-designed that it’s too hard to know whether the given information is sincere or not. Fake news is carefully crafted and it intends to influence people’s emotions.
Misinformation and disinformation are two notions that overlap with fake news. Disinformation is false information that is spread with a hostile intention. On the other hand, misinformation is a more general concept. It is false information that is spread either deliberately or unintentionally. Read more about it here.
Why Is News Literacy Important for Teenagers?
The prevalence of online media has made it easier for fake news to spread without any obligation for it to be verified first. Read more about harms of media for teenagers here. As the natives of the virtual world, the young generation gets most of their news and information from the internet. This generation is the future of society. They are the ones that are going to vote, be president, stop global warming, and save the planet. Therefore, it is absolutely essential for them to know how to distinguish false information from reliable news.
On the other hand, a great deal of students’ assignments is based on research. If they want to get good grades and succeed in their studies, they should be able to build their research on authentic solid statements. A wrong hypothesis can ruin an article completely.
How to Spot Fake News from Reliable Content?
In an article published in 2018, researchers created an exercise called the “fake news game.” In this game, students of a public high school were supposed to adopt the perspective of fake news producers and write a news article using misinformation. The findings of this study revealed that educational games can be an effective way to educate people against fake news. There are several other fake news lessons for teenagers that can be done at home or school. However, they all try to teach the same fundamentals:
Check Author’s Credentials
It is important to see whether the author of the content is a real person and what their background is. Have they been active in the field? Are they a well-known person? Do they have any acceptable previous dedications to the matter?
Always Consult Other Sources
Fake news is not based on facts. Therefore, no traces of it can be found in other sources. Check to see if there is any supporting evidence elsewhere.
Check the Authenticity of the Source of the Information
Information can be biased for a number of reasons. Sometimes the news is exploited for political reasons. Or, the publisher wants to bad-mouth a competitor. It is not enough that a website is linked to a legitimate-looking organization or that it has an “About” section. The true nature of the source and its intentions must be doubly checked.
Check the Links
In fake news, you might come across references to biased sources or links to front groups that seem solid at first glance. The links of a piece of news should be checked from two aspects: 1) Are the given links from reliable sources? 2)Does the news transfer the message of the source without alterations?
Check the Authenticity of Photos
Students have shown weakness in this area. Photos can be irrelevant to the subject or edited. Teach them about tools that help verify the authenticity of a photo using the examples provided in this link.
Some Additional Help
These fake news lessons for teenagers are one of the first and most important steps towards teaching online literacy to the young generation. However, sometimes it is not enough. The school atmosphere can make students additionally exposed to fake news. It can result in chaos and confusion among them. In these cases, parental control apps can come in handy. These apps can help monitor the flow of news on teenagers’ devices by tracking their online activity. Safes school is specially designed for academic settings and it’s economically efficient. Remember, this is just an extra help that you will use until they learn to fly!