According to Andreas Schleicher – education chief at think tank OECD and one of the world’s most influential thinkers about education – ALL pupils need to be taught to spot fake news so so that they aren’t duped by unreliable claims on social media or falsified information.

“In the past, when you needed information, you went to an encyclopaedia… and you could trust that the information would be true,” says Schleicher. Today, however, many young people turn to social media or news websites and apps, and often unquestioningly trust the information they find there.

It is evidence like this which has been a driving force behind setting up Digital Resilience.  As young people increasingly turn to the internet for information – whether they are researching a science project or – for older teens – deciding how to vote in an election – it is essential that they learn how discern fact from fiction.

Ofcom’s Children and Parents Media Attitudes and Use Report (Dec 2016) also highlights worrying levels of trust of online content amongst children and young people. The report found that:

  • 56% of 12-15s believe that all or most information on websites/apps about what is going on in the world is true.
  • 27% of 12-15s believe that all websites listed by Google can be trusted.
  • An increasing number of 12-15s (30%, up from 17% in 2105) are turning to Google first for ‘true and accurate’ information about what is going on in the world, and nearly half (43%) use the search engine without making any critical evaluation about the information that the search engine returns.

Our ‘Critical Understanding Online’ programme addresses these issues, providing students with case-studies, challenges and strategies to help them spot fake news, identify trustworthy information sources and extract reliable information from search engines. In these sessions, students are often shocked to discover the extent of misinformation online, and how quickly it can spread.

As Schleicher says, “Distinguishing what is true from what is not true is a critical skill today. Exposing fake news, even being aware that there is something like fake news, that there is something that is written that is not necessarily true, that you have to question, think critically. That is very important.”

Digital media is increasingly influencing young people’s lives, so it is key that they have the skills to effectively evaluate the information they access. How is your school addressing this issue? If this is something you’d like find out more about, we’d love to hear from you.

Our ‘Critical Understanding Online’ programme is available for both Primary and Secondary schools. Contact us to find out more.