Considerations for youth and social networking – Part 5: What is news?

Help youth take a critical look at the news they view online.

According to a 2016 Pew Research, 62 percent of American adults get news through social media. In 2017, Common Sense Media found that 49 percent of youth 10-18 get news from online media sources including social media platforms and apps. Pair this with the fact that social networking is a hangout place for youth, it is important for adults to help youth understand what factual news is and what may not be 100 percent factual news.

From Common Sense Media’s research in 2017, they found that 31 percent of youth have shared news in the last six months that turned out to not be 100 percent factual. Helping youth take a critical look at the news they view online is an important aspect that adults need to help youth understand.

Adults need to take the time to help youth understand what the credible sources are online. The world of online news sources floods social media. There is endless websites sharing news from sports, entertainment and the latest health update to your local news. Remember, just because someone states something, whether it is in person or via social media, that doesn’t mean every source is accurate or credible.

Have youth look at the URL for the news story. Youth should easily be able to recognize the URL as a common one like, .com, .net, .gov, .org and .edu. If there is anything added to the end of the URL, it should raise a flag that it may not be believable or authentic source for information.

When it comes to educating youth about taking time to consider the credibility of news found online, Michigan State University Extension has some questions parents or other adults should share with youth:

  • Who is the author of the news story and what credentials do they have?
  • Does the news story have a specific target audience? If so, who is it?
  • Does the article have typos, all caps or grammatical errors?
  • Will someone benefit or be harmed by the information that is being shared in the news story?
  • What important pieces of information are left off the news story?
  • When was the news story published? Is it current news or an old story that is has resurfaced?
  • Is the news being shared from a credible source and what makes you believe it is believable?
  • Is someone making money from information that is being shared in the news story?

Finally, adults need to help youth think about the news stories they are seeing, reading, sharing online and possibly reposting. Remind youth that others can see everything they post online and they need to be taking time to think about what they share. Adults should also provide the following questions for youth to consider when thinking about sharing the news story with others online:

  • Will this story offend anyone?
  • Are you comfortable with others seeing you shared this story?
  • Can you stand by the facts and opinions that are shared in the news story?

In addition, watch this short video with youth called “Things to Ask Before Posting,” and read the MSU Extension article, “Things to consider when posting online – Part 3: Questions to consider” for more information.

Check out the previous articles in this series below, and watch for future articles that will continue to explore different areas of sharing information on social networks.

Other articles in series

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