When big news breaks, it's easy to engage in online history. While the Internet – including major news sites and social media such as Twitter – provides useful information, it can also lead to false information. Helping children and adolescents understand the news, and how to separate facts and fiction, is an important task for parents and educators.
Here are some tips parents can offer to children and teenagers to help them be more sophisticated readers when they consume online news.
Keep in mind that breaking news is often wrong. In the rush to tell stories, reporters make mistakes, officials do not always have correct information and evidence that the sound seems plausible before someone checks for accuracy. The most famous example, when the Chicago Daily Tribune reported on its presidential election in 1948, was featured on their front page, "Dewey Defeats Truman," when the truth was indeed the opposite.
Use social media wisely. Some say Twitter is a great source of news in the first minutes of a tragedy, but after that it just gets messy and largely inaccurate. On the other hand, Facebook is a great way to connect with friends who are affected by events in the news and to spread personal messages in a smaller circle. For example: "I've heard of a family in Florida, and everyone is fine after the hurricane." (Of course, news links posted by friends on Facebook contain unchecked information, so take them with a grain of salt.)
Be skeptical. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. After the bombing of the Boston Marathon, NBC Sports reported Some runners ran all the way to the hospital Donate blood for the victims. Not true. There are many websites that deal with exposing counterfeit news stories, such as Snopes, Urban Legends Online, and FactCheck. Visit them to find out if a story is true.
Step back; take a break With social media at your fingertips, it's tempting to weigh your opinion or share any update. However, restraint is necessary to avoid amplifying the noise and confusion. We like the sensible approach of NPR reporter Steve Inskeepwho warned the audience during a day of news: "We collect points. It's a day to be careful when you connect them. "
Stick to credible news sources. News sources claiming to have all the answers or to come to conclusions about why something happened only contribute to that. And remember that cable news channels make money with the news – the more annoying the story, the more eyeballs look on and the more money they make. Make sure that you and your children are not victims of false news.
Keep it age appropriate. Younger teens and children are not always ready to digest big, tragic news – especially when it comes to children, such as shootings or abuse scandals. The constant repetition of information can be overwhelming and confusing for younger children. At the beginning of a news event, parents may not be reassured. Children who want to know more about specific events can engage with child-oriented news sources.
Sierra Filucci is a journalist and writes for Common Sense Media. This piece started first CommonSenseMedia.org,
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