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Worlds Awaiting: Fake News

There has been a lot of talk about fake news lately as recent political and social events are making us aware of those who are blatantly passing off any news as real. My librarian colleagues and I have been talking about fake news, and our discussion has centered on what we can do to help people be critical of the information they receive. By helping children to develop information literacy skills, our hope is that they can navigate this world that is constantly inundated with convoluted information. One skill we have been discussing is how to help children and teens determine authority. With information, one of the things you have to determine is whether or not the author or distributor is qualified to give that information. For example, if you were going to get information on medical treatments it would be apparent that a nurse would be more qualified to give you that information than a truck driver. This same principle holds true for all kinds of information including the news we read. However, the tricky part today is that much of what we consume is online—where it really is difficult to tell who is giving you the information, let alone if they are qualified to do so. Years ago, when our news came in discrete packages like newspapers or magazines, we had a pretty good system that allowed editors and publishers to make sure that there was at least some authority to the information being published. But the Internet allows everyone to publish anything, easily masking their qualifications (or lack thereof). Producers of fake news really try hard to make their sites and posts look just like real news sites. So what can we do to make sure we are finding the best information from the best sources? To start, check out the URL to determine what kind of site you are accessing. From there, look closely to find the exact author of the information. If you can’t find a named author, or if there are no real credentials for the website, the information is most likely suspect, and you really should look further. This is just the start. But if recent events have shown us anything, it is that being able to critically assess the source and authority of alleged information, is a necessary skill. And we here at Rachel’s World know that this critical thinking process is one that we as concerned adults can help our children to master.

 

By Rachel Wadham, Host, WORLDS AWAITING


DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.



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