So for my first project in my rhetoric class I choose to do a lesson on fake news. I have now read four articles dealing with fake news in the last two days. I knew from my own experiences on Facebook and Twitter that fake news is every where. I have also realized that you have to be extraordinarily careful when it comes to what you read on the Internet. The thing I didn’t realize before my research is that students have a really hard time distinguishing fake news from the truth or real news. Apparently Stanford University did a study on it and they determined that middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students struggle to understand the difference between fake news, sponsored news and real news. I knew from my own experiences that students struggle to find reliable sources for research but I never realized that it was so hard for them to distinguish the truth. I am starting to think that forcing students to use databases when researching has added to the problem. When a student uses a database all the sources are already vetted so they don’t have to worry about their reliability. Without meaning too, teachers are reinforcing the issue of students not knowing how to decipher reliable and unreliable material in their world. Three out of the four articles I have read have included a picture of a strange plant mutation that has been credited to Japan without any proof or information about its location. This picture alluded the students in the Stanford Study because they took the image at face value without needing any type of proof to believe the claims. Here is the image:
I agree that the image is disturbing but there is no way to know whether or not it has been tapered with when you aren’t being given an exact location of the existence of the plant itself. My own daughter who is very Internet and computer savvy even told me yesterday that it is sometimes difficult to tell real news from fake news. Teenagers today are inundated with information from the time they get up until they go to bed. Most of them have smart phones, laptops or even IPads/tablets to peruse for that information. YouTube has become another source of entertainment and information for teenagers across the country. My children are always talking about something they saw or heard on YouTube. I think my kids are smart enough to decipher most things but they are still struggling with the influx of so much information. I know that our school curriculums don’t really allow enough time for more media study, but I also know that if our kids aren’t taught how to interpret what they see than we may be in trouble in the future. I think there are lots of ways to incorporate mini lessons with fake news whether it is simply having students write about a picture you show them and then have them research that picture’s origin or just showing them videos with bias or fake information to open up the lines of communication within the classroom. It is easy for all of us to make mistakes when it comes to fake news, especially if we are looking at it quickly and not really paying attention to its source. Another study that was conducted on the fake news spread on Twitter pointed out that it is usually the everyday people with fewer followers that spread the most fake news. That fact should make all of us sit up and take notice because we are all responsible for the problem and we all need to be ready to participate in the solution. If you are interested in reading about the information in the articles that I have researched I am including the citations here.
Articles Consulted in Research:
Domonoske, Camila. “Students Have ‘Dismaying’ Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds.” NPR, NPR, 23 Nov. 2016, www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/23/503129818/study-finds-students-have-dismaying-inability-to-tell-fake-news-from-real.
Matteson, Addie. “Teaching News Literacy? Check Your Own Bias, Says Librarian.” School Library Journal, 27 Feb. 2017, http://www.slj.com/2017/02/industry-news/teaching-news-literacy-check-your-own-bias-says-librarian/#_
Resnick, Brian. “False News Stories Travel Faster and Farther on Twitter than the Truth.” Vox, Vox, 8 Mar. 2018, www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/3/8/17085928/fake-news-study-mit-science.
Schulten, Katherine and Amanda Christy Brown. “Evaluating sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning about Fake News.” The New York Times, lesson plan, 19 Jan. 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/learning/lesson-plans/evaluating-sources-in-a-post-truth-world-ideas-for-teaching-and-learning-about-fake-news.html?_r=1