Study: Fake news trips up students of all ages

WASHINGTON — New research indicates students may be easily fooled by fake news, as they lack the skills to spot legitimate news.

Over 7,000 students — from elementary school to college — were tested by the Stanford History Education Group. It found that the majority of students had trouble deciphering what was real news versus agenda news versus advertisements.

“Across the board, students struggled with these tasks,” the group’s Joel Breakstone said. “We did not find that college students were more adept than middle school students.”

The researchers tested “civic online reasoning,” which they define as the ability to judge the credibility of information viewed while on electronic devices through 56 tasks designed to evaluate student understanding of news sources.

The Stanford History Education Group is now working on coming up with a curriculum to help students of all ages know how to spot fake news.

The curriculum, Breakstone said, can be launched by asking students to consider some simple questions. “One powerful one,” he said, “is to simply ask the question: Who is behind this information?”

Jenny Glick

Jenny Glick joined WTOP as a fill-in anchor and reporter in June 2016. She previously worked as an Enterprise Reporter/Midday Anchor on WNEW in Washington.

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