Fake news harms children’s self-esteem and trust, say MPs

A few weeks ago, Chloe, 13, shared a hoax story about the alleged death of a favourite actor, Sylvester Stallone. “I thought it was real and shared it with family members. A lot of people were quite upset,” she says. When the truth emerged that Sylvester Stallone was alive and well, Chloe says she felt stupid. The BBC reports.

Chloe is not alone, according to a report from a group of MPs which says that falling for fake news can harm children’s “wellbeing, trust in journalism and democracy itself”.

In research for the report, the National Literacy Trust showed more than 2,000 UK eight to 16-year-olds six news stories, two of which were fake, and asked them to identify which were real and which were not.

Only 2% got all six right.

Of the children questioned in the survey:

  • almost half were worried about their inability to tell which stories in their social media feeds were false and which were real
  • almost two-thirds said fake stories made them trust the news less

The report found that children with the poorest literacy skills, often boys and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, were least likely to be able to spot fake news.

Lucy Powell MP, who chairs the group, said the findings highlighted “a dangerous lack in the literacy skills that children and young people require to navigate our digital world and identify fake news”.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said schools once again found themselves “on the front line of trying to provide a solution to a society-wide issue”.

Read the full article Fake news harms children’s self-esteem and trust, say MPs

Whose responsibility is it to guide children? Can more pressure be put on the online platforms? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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