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5 tips to help kids spot ‘fake news’


A recent study from Stanford University showed most students have a hard time spotting bias in social media posts.

Since there’s not always an adult to ask for help, it’s important to teach kids how to ask the right questions, and find reliable answers for themselves.

Stephen Weigel, social studies department chairman at Commonwealth Charter Academy, has put together a list of crucial tips to help parents and kids to sort fact from fiction online. Developed while working with high school students at CCA, these tips can help kids figure out what information to trust when they’re online:

  1. Start with the basics. Make sure kids understand that not everything they see online is going to be true.
  2. Fact check. Help kids investigate what they’re reading with sites like FactCheck.org, PolitiFact or Snopes. PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter adds an element of fun, rating political claims on a five-point scale from “True” to “Pants on Fire.”
  3. Look for RED FLAGS. Lots of words in ALL CAPS? Does a piece sound outrageous or speak to only one side of an issue? Those are signs of bias or opinion.
  4. Use multiple sources. Encourage kids to seek out additional news sources to corroborate what they’re seeing. News wire services like the Associated Press, Reuters and UPI are great for reliable coverage and straight facts.
  5. Talk about it. Ask your kids what they know about current events, listen to their ideas and opinions, and try to be open to their point of view. These conversations help children develop critical thinking and communication skills that will benefit them for a lifetime.

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