Children are full of curiosity, they are always so keen to know what’s happening around the world. And the Internet is the only source where they can find any information they are looking for. Sometimes information that you find on the internet is not always authentic, it can be fake as well.
On the Internet and social media platforms, there are a lot of stories and information that are often not real, such news is called fake news. Sometimes they are just posted to make people laugh (parody/memes), or to gain more likes, or even to harm and make fun of others.
The Increasing Trend of Fake News
Over the last few years, this subject of “Fake News” has shifted from conventional teacher’s interest to national concern. You can find these misleading statements, facts, and information all over the Internet.
Classically, the news was limited to reliable sources like newspapers, media personalities, and channels. But today, the Internet has created a completely new means of reporting, distributing, and accessing content and updates with very little oversight, ethical and professional requirements.
People frequently get news from social media sites and forums, where it is impossible to distinguish whether the reports are authentic or fake. Lack of awareness and knowledge of how the Internet works in people, primarily kids and teens is one of the prominent reasons for the rise of “Fake News”. Social media platforms significantly contribute to growing the exposure of such kinds of news.
Why is Spotting Fake News is important?
Publishing and sharing fake news or content on the Internet will have a huge effect on the public audience as well as the credibility of an individual. Among the minor groups when they find out that their friends have fallen for a trap, they shame and make fun of them as they entertain bullying and mocking others. And the victim might feel ashamed, stupid, and lose their self-esteem.
Identification and spot of true/fake news are linked to the literacy rate of the children. Kids with poor literacy skills or unprivileged backgrounds tend to lack the skills to identify fake news and pieces of information. Therefore, it is quite significant to aware kids of how news is made and foster them with critical thinking skills so that they could make decisions more rationally.
Negative Impact of Fake News on Kids
Kids are innocent, they tend to believe what they see or what others say. They are too young to be aware of the cruelty of the virtual world. Such fake news on the Internet would impact their learning. They might grow up with false information and facts in their heads and may believe it for the rest of their life.
Knowing that there is a wealth of fake news, kids will have a hard time believing in people or any other sources. They might develop self-esteem and trust issues, also they might end up knocking up relationships.
Fake news and information could harm one’s health as well. There are plenty of medical treatments on the Internet which might not be backed by doctors. Therefore, believing and following such news would affect health.
Some news and reports are purposefully malicious and offensive and might as well be directly pointed at the minor groups which might lead to negative offline implications among kids and teens.
Almost all kids use the Internet, as it is a great source of educational resources for them. For instance, kids use it while doing their assignments or research. But considering the wealth of fake news on the Internet, they are often confused and muddled on figuring out what is true or fake.
So kids end up using and quoting the resources that are not true, this would lower their grades. Therefore, parents, as well as schools, should prepare kids to be well furnished to deal with the challenges of fake news and feel assured with the information they search online.
Types of Fake News/Traps Kids Should be Aware of
The Internet is full of fake news and information that are often published by bullies, politicians, advertising companies, and even the states, who have a strong knowledge of how the net functions. This suggests that fake news appears in all sorts, making it harder to find out the truth. Following are the types of fake news:
The question is why do people waste their time making such fake and misleading news? It is called “Clickbait”.
Clickbait the content whose ideal purpose is to grab the attention of the people and encourage them to click on a particular web page and that equals more money. Whereas some people just publish their perceptions, thoughts, or ideas of their own without the aid of any facts which instead turns out wrong and therefore misleading.
A lot of people on social media platforms post fake news to make fun of and spoof. Even though satire is not meant to hurt anyone, it is done to fool people.
There are some popular websites like Clickhole, The Onion, NewsThump, Thedailymash, etc. These websites publish news that is mostly satire, and people who don’t know about it might end up believing every news they post.
Satire is only for those who are into jokes and know what real information is. You can find new information about what is happening around in society, politics, the entertainment world, etc.
It is the information and the specifics in particular of favoritism and deceptive nature applied to forward any political cause or perspective.
It is mostly used by politicians, in the hope of getting elected in the election and winning the election. Propaganda was there before there was the internet, after the invention of the internet people got more platforms to spread propaganda.
Reports that are not necessarily inaccurate may be skewed by deceptive or clickbait headlines. These forms of articles will spread rapidly on social networking platforms wherein the highlights and brief fragments of the entire story are shown on the news feeds of the viewer.
You may have your own experience of believing false headlines for a minute until you read the entire article. As an adult, you might be able to distinguish false hand lines after reading the entire article, but children might not be able to.
Viral or Scam Messages
The next thing that kids need to be aware of is scam messages that they might receive on their mail or on social media. Kids and teens often receive several messages that hold wrong information in Messenger or WhatsApp forwarded by their friends. The reason why they tend to believe it. Emails or messages asking for personal details or financial help are often received.
When kids click on links that they receive on random messages, there is a high chance of their data getting leaked. Hence it is extremely crucial to keep your kids safe from scams.
Ways How Kids Can Identify Fake News
Following are the ways (5Cs) on how kids can avoid themselves from falling into false news and pieces of information;
Look out for facts! While having a look at the news or information, kids should look out for facts like dates and timelines. Fake news producers extract the articles from the past and introduce them as present affairs. So make sure to look if the article is new or an old one that has been recycled.
Check the credibility of the source. Is the site reputed? Does the site have any record of publishing fake news? Is it properly cited with references?
Most of the time fake news does not put any references, or credibility of the source. Hence, before believing any news check for their source. Believe the new only if it is coming from some authentic source.
Evaluate how the new article is constructed, check if it is based on opinion or facts. Is there any bias, propaganda techniques? Also take a closer look if the photos or videos are staged, edited, or photoshopped.
The title is often incompatible with the content just so to attract the audiences. Therefore, check if the title of any news/article complies with the content.
Check whether the news that you are looking up to, is also reported by other reliable and reputable sources. If it’s not, you will have to take a hint and be aware that it might not be true.
If you do not find any link with some trustworthy source then it’s better to recheck the information before believing them.
Compare the news/information with other credible sources. In that way, you will be able to analyze the bigger picture of what’s going on.
Besides the 5Cs of critically analyzing and identifying any true/false news, if you are in any doubt or confusion in evaluating the news, always go up to your adult for help.
What Parents Should do to Help Kids?
Parents should also instill critical understanding and thinking in their kids on what is real and what is fake. Following are the tips on how parents can help their kids to defend traps:
- Persuade them to always make a query upon what they are looking,
- Make them believe that you can always be trusted when the kid is in doubt,
- Make sure they always check the source,
- Discourage them to take part in any challenges that would hurt them.