Many teens and preteens seem to be hooked on social media. Terrible, right? But what’s even worse is that most of them aren’t even able to tell the difference between real news and fake news. Even though, they are constantly consuming media, approximately 82% of middle-schoolers aren’t able to sort out fact and fiction when it comes to the “news” articles they read. This means that only 18% can tell the difference between real and fake news. It looks like many kids will believe absolutely anything.
This Stanford University study polled 7,804 students from middle school through college, demonstrating to us a sample of how teens read and evaluated their news. The conclusion was that “many students judged the credibility of newsy tweets based on how much detail they contained or whether a large photo was attached, rather than on the source.” What are they teaching these kids, nowadays? If there are a bunch of words accompanied by a nice picture, you should just trust what you’re looking at as fact without any other form of verification? Of course not. But at least 82% of middle-schoolers think so.
Let’s look at the 2016 US presidential election for a moment. You’re probably asking yourself, “How did we get here?” During the election’s final months, fake news outlets trumped real news outlets on FaceBook. And now, Google and Facebook are fighting back against this fake news insurgency by trying to weed out and eliminate these false news agencies from their websites. But some of these sites are tricky, as they can use loopholes like deceptive advertising to get around being blocked out. The fight for and against fake news is on.
The majority of middle school kids aren’t able to tell what’s real and what’s fake when it comes to the news. And meanwhile, fake news dominated much of this election cycle. So, no wonder people are starting to fight back against fake news, since it’s not only confusing a bunch of people, but it is also perverting and distorting what we understand as the truth. Though, I’m sure this is all getting some serious LOLs over at the fake news and troll camps. But the fight is on. The web browser Chrome is now offering two new extensions to help filter our that fake news. And middle-schoolers spend an average of seven and a half hours online every day when they’re out of school. So, this is for our children, dammit! LOL