Many parents and teachers are finding that teaching kids how to recognize fake news is an essential skill in today’s media saturated world. The Center for News Literacy has made it a mission to help kids know how to check sources, find fake news, and evaluate credible sources.
Currently many schools do a weak job when it comes to teaching news literacy. According to recent studies, most children cannot tell the difference between real news and ads, or find fake news.
According to journalism teacher Eric Newton, these skills are “like being able to tell the difference between the mushroom you can eat and the poisonous mushroom.” He teaches at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in Phoenix.
Because real and fake news are prominent on social media, “the idea of news literacy has become more urgent,” says Newton. He want’s kids to learn to think like journalists.
Years ago, people received news from few sources. The local newspaper arrived on the doorstep and didn’t change until the next day. Updates were provided by television news in the evening and late at night. There was no social media, no 24 hour news cycle.
Today, news and propaganda are constant, but approaches to teaching children about them are inconsistent. In one city, kids might go to a school media center. Or teens might learn about fact checking in science class. But in many places, students are not taught the skills of recognizing or finding news, or evaluating sources at all.