Top Tips For Parents & Teachers to Introduce Fake News to Kids

Top Tips to Introduce Fake News to Kids 

Fake news is a kind of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media.

It is written and published to mislead its audience to win financially or politically, often with sensationalist, exaggerated, or false titles that attract readers. The intentionally misleading and deceptive fake news is different from obvious satire or parody intended to humour rather than mislead its audience. Fake news often uses catchy headlines or entirely fabricated news to boost online readership, sharing and Internet click-through revenue. The latter case is similar to sensational online "click bait" headlines and relies on generating revenue through advertising from such activity, regardless of the truthfulness of the published news information. Fake news also sabotages serious media coverage and makes it more difficult for journalists to cover significant news stories."

In a layman's language, "Fake news" is a term that comes to mean different things to different people. At its core, "fake news" is false news stories: the story itself is fabricated, with no verifiable facts, sources or quotes. At times, we may find these stories as propaganda intentionally designed to mislead the reader or may be designed as "clickbait" written for economic incentives (the writer profits on the number of people who click on the story). In the recent past, fake news has proliferated through social media, partly because it is easily and rapidly shared online.

The term "Fake news", which was coined quite recently, is a symptom of much broader problems, including the lack of media education. If we go back to history, we can find many widely accepted falsehoods, some with disastrous results, such as the Salem witch hunt victims. Not only this, several internet-based rumours claim that the post office was about to levy a 5-cent email tax, the story that Facebook would soon charge $5.99 a month for a private account, or WhatsApp will steal your personal information etc.

However, not every piece of incorrect information is a deliberate lie. Any information with no intent to deceive, a falsehood, should not be considered fake news. Likewise, there are different examples of people who simply cannot discern entertainment or parody from reality. For example, the Onion is an example of a parody site designed to entertain people with decidedly wrong information. The information is false, but the intent is comical and, to some extent, pure, although not obvious to anyone who sees it.

In the midst of all this, the concern is how to protect people from fake news, especially how to teach our kids, the future of the nation, to spot such fake news? In this highly digitized era, it is very easy for kids to fall into the trap and become the spreader of fake news; so how can we make kids aware?

In this article, we bring some popular tips to teach children to spot fake news easily. Let's check them out!

Observe the Signs of Clickbait

To help your children steer clear of fake news, teach them the difference between legitimate and well-documented content and clickbait. A Clickbait is any title, video or text that has been formulated to draw you to a given link. Clickbait can often use sensational language to provoke indignation or incredulity, which explains why children find them very attractive. These fake links direct you to an advertising page to generate revenue and not disseminate accurate information.

Clickbait has the following features:

  • Headlines in ALL CAPS.
  • Photoshop images attached to it.
  • One domain name ending with. Co (www.nbcnews.com.co).
  • Multiple pop up and flashing banner ads.

Teach Digital Empathy

Teaching your kids digital empathy in the first place is essential. Digital literacy is about distinguishing between rumours, opinions and facts. This encourages them to put themselves in someone else's place and understand their feelings and motives. Teaching about fake news may seem like an abstract concept, but coaxing your kids to look beyond the words on the screen to the actual motivations behind the words is an important skill. This will assist them in understanding that online information should not be considered as such.

Learning to empathize will also help your kids become good digital citizens and deter cyberbullying. Talk to them about their online experiences and make them aware of how their online actions can affect how other people feel, show more compassion, and practice online kindness.

Use the Parenting Control Circle

Since your children discover unreliable websites, it is vital to practice parental controls Circle. You need to filter clicks and false news by blocking certain sites with the Circle filter function. The Circle family controls support parents as teachers and guides for their children.

Embolden Them to Challenge What They See Online

In many cases, children take the information as it is. They never question them. Another reason is the lack of confidence to challenge the truthfulness of a piece of information. Instead of telling them that what they read online is untrue, encourage them to check the accuracy of the information.

Today, social media has created a new kind of "digital literacy." Digital literacy is the reading of content online and the sharing, discussion, and display of content. As parents, we can adopt this "participatory culture" to deal with the impact of misinformation.

Instead of trying to stop children from being online altogether, they encourage them to be good digital citizens, call out fake news, be positive in their online communities, and create great content themselves.

Practice 3-Part Method for Detecting Fake News

Instruct kids to follow the three-part methods to spot fake news: Read, Check and Wait.

Additionally, have regular discussions with your child about what they see online and check about what they do online to understand what sites they regularly use; this can help you understand what content they may have been exposed to. Ask if the stories they come across include quotes, references or links? If not, it is a flag that the information is not accurate. Does the story make you mad? A factual article should allow you to feel knowledgeable, not just frustrated and angry, etc.

Play with them

Another best way to teach them is to play along with them. You may take inspiration from the video series Real or Fake? Nat Geo, where contestants figure out which of three statements is true. You may hold your family quiz tournament with questions on dinosaurs, space, and sports. Besides these, teach kids about reliable sources by giving them few minutes to find answers in an encyclopedia or any credible newspaper article. There are also CBBC quizzes for children that see how good they are at spotting fake versus real news. Google's Interland is fun, too. It teaches principles such as 'check it's real' and 'think before you share.' Spot-fake-news quiz, a fake news information toolkit and series of animations to educate children about fake news are also there.

Encourage Usage of Alternative Sources

It's extremely important to expose children to different types of information. It is equally important to have them access the right information in digital and traditional formats. Schools, libraries and books can be of great help with this. You can also look forward to news sources to provide children with reliable information presented in simple terms. Some of them are educational newspapers like First News and The Week Junior and children's news bulletins like Newsround that comes with the Newsround YouTube channel.

Teach Them to Cross-Reference

If a story or fact is reported regularly on various websites, publications or books, it is more likely than not that it is accurate. Older children can be taught to compare multiple sources to determine if the information corresponds to all sources.

Check Dates

In the world of fake news, misinformation and disinformation, it is crucial to teach your kids to check the publication's date, as it's not unusual for news stories from years back to resurface and start trending suddenly.

The same applies to factual content such as health advice and anything containing figures: teach them to check to see when it was last reviewed, as it may have been replaced by more recent information.

Investigate the Author

Introduce a habit of researching every information they come across. Encourage them to verify if the author of the information looks trustworthy.

Use Respected Sources

Although we trust Wikipedia, YouTube and Instagram, and they are many children's first choice of websites; they are often misleading. Not every piece of information provided is reliable. You can teach your child to use reliable sources that have been reviewed before publication, such as online encyclopedias like Britannica Kids or Q-Files, primary-school homework assistants like TheSchoolRun's Homework Gnome or Primary Homework Help, websites of respected organizations etc.

Additionally, Professor Melissa Zimdars of Merrimack College recommends a few of the following tips:

Older children, in particular, might enjoy learning things to spot fake news. Here are a few things you should keep an eye on:

  • Search for unusual URLs or site names, including ending with ". co" -- these often try to show up as legitimate news sites, but they are not.
  • Look for signs of low quality, such as words in all caps, headlines with glaring grammatical errors, bold claims with no sources, and sensationalist images (women in bikinis are popular clickbait on fake news sites). Those are indications that you should be skeptical as to the source.
  • Check a site's "About Us" section. Find out who supports or is associated with this site. If this information doesn't exist -- and if the site requires that you register before you can learn anything about its backers -- you have to wonder why they aren't transparent.
  • Check out Snopes, Wikipedia, and Google before you trust or share news that sounds too good (or bad) to be real.
  • Determine whether other credible news outlets share the same news. If they're not, it doesn't mean it's not true, but it means you need to dig deeper.
  • Check your emotions. Clickbait and false news fight for extreme reactions. If the news you're reading makes you really angry or super smug, it could be a sign that you're being played. Check multiple sources before trusting.
About the Author
Author: Saniya Khan
Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview - India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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