Learn the basics and build confidence using devices and technology.
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If you get your news online or from social media, this type of headline sounds very familiar. What's real? What's fake? What's satire? Now that anyone with access to a phone or computer can publish information online, it's getting harder to tell. But as more people go to Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and other online sources for their news and information, it's even more crucial that all of us -- especially kids -- learn to decode what we read online. (Learn more about how kids get their news and how they feel about it in Common Sense Media's report, News and America's Kids: How Young People Perceive and Are Impacted by the News.)
When fake news, such as false claims about the coronavirus, has threatened people's safety, tech companies have joined forces to crack down on the misinformation super-spreaders. But ad-supported networks are in somewhat of a bind, since they get money when users click on these stories -- so the crazier the headline, the more money they make. Most kids and teens get their news from their feeds, so they need to learn how to view stories critically (and they should learn that skill anyway!). Even little kids can start to think about some key media-literacy questions. And as kids get older, parents can help kids become more sophisticated critical thinkers. (If your kid's school is tackling media-literacy issues, consider sharing this with their teachers.)
Here are a few basic questions to consider whenever you and your kids encounter a piece of media:
(Thanks to Project Look Sharp for these questions.)
Older kids especially might enjoy learning tricks to spot fake news. Here are a few things to watch for: