"Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there," the researchers wrote. "Our work shows the opposite." Stanford researchers assessed students from middle school to college and found they struggled to distinguish ads from articles, neutral sources from biased ones and fake accounts from real ones.
This is truly dismaying news given the post-truth world we are apparently living in now. NPR News presents a concise and informative report on Stanford’s recently published “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning” and paints a grim picture of so-called digital natives’ ability to critically assess news and fake news.
The participants in this study were middle and high school students who were asked to evaluate websites, tweets, and images in order to determine whether they were legitimate (from the cited source), factual (presented information that was true or which stood up to basic scrutiny) or unbiased. The Stanford researched used items from across the politial spectrum and discovered that students could not identify advertisements on webpages, could not determine if sources of sources were real or fake, or even if images were what they purported to be.
We in the IT and Library world clearly have our work cut out for ourselves and need to have some serious curricular discussions within our schools. I for one would be very curious to see how our own students would fare in a similar study. Anyone care to join me?
Listen on NPR.org: https://www.npr.org/player/embed/503129818/503141179