Young people are increasingly exposed to fake news, according to recent research

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7th December 2017 10:46 - Media and PR

Young people are increasingly exposed to fake news, according to recent research

Young people are increasingly exposed to fake news, according to recent research: According to the Office of National Statistics, 99% of 16-54 year olds have recently used the internet, however figures have shown that those younger than the age of 16 are becoming more exposed to online content and the likelihood of fake news.

Three quarters of those surveyed said they knew what fake news was and over a half said they have previously identified a fake news story. However, one fifth said they would trust a news story if the article looked professional and two fifths said they would check the comments section in an attempt to legitimise the article they had read.

Although various fake, clickbait and satire websites have already been identified, social media is making it harder for young people to consume legitimate information, as over 50% of 12-15 year olds claim they get their news from social media platforms, such as Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter.

In an attempt to avoid fake news, most of the children said they are more likely to trust news on the TV and big news brands, as opposed to the internet and radio broadcasts.

As the number of social media profiles increases amongst 8-11 year olds (23%) and 12-15 years (72%), more children are exposed to misinformation as social media features, such as the ‘filter bubble’ (an advertising technique which allows users to see more of what they liked, based on their click history) has recently been criticized for censoring information by only showing users what they ‘like’, and hiding information they ‘don’t’ like. 

Currently, schools and television programmes such as BBC’s Newsround are educating children about fake news and ways in which they can identify it. Additionally, from March 2018 the BBC are said to be offering mentoring classes for up to 1,000 schools to teach children more about fake news.

Commenting on the situation, Beth Hewitt, project leader of the fake news campaign, said: "Lots of children understand that fake news exists but can they really spot it when they see it in the real world? That's where lessons would help.”

She adds: “This is important because if young people stop feeling they can believe the news is true, they could stop trusting the media at all, and even switch off from finding out what's happening all around the world."

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