Culture

Can kids recognize fake news? Sort of.

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The Snapchat messaging application is seen on a phone screen.

The Snapchat messaging application is seen on a phone screen.

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Thomas White/Reuters

Sometimes a story is so outrageous that it’s easy to recognize as fake news.

But it can also be much more subtle: It can be hard to flag a story with just one incorrect statement or opinion masquerading as a fact.

And if it’s hard for adults to spot fake news, can children do it?

The University of Salford teamed up with the BBC Newsround for one year to study how well children ages 9 to 14 can spot false information.

“Young people are actually really savvy about the theory of fake news — they’ve heard the term, they can understand it, they can debate it,” says Beth Hewitt, who led the study.

What children can’t necessarily do is distinguish fake news from the real thing, especially on social media.

Hewitt says the results of the study show that digital literacy should be part of the curriculum in schools, helping kids question who’s writing articles, where links and pictures come from and whether the information has been confirmed elsewhere.

“After all, they live in a digital, technological world. [Children] need to know what they should be looking for.” 

You can listen to The World's full interview with Beth Hewitt above. 

In Arts, Culture & MediaCultureMedia.

Tagged: Beth Hewitt.