Google’s New Media Literacy Program Teaches Kids How To Spot Disinformation and Fake News – TechCrunch
Google announced this morning that it is expanding its two-year-old digital safety and citizenship curriculum for children, Be Internet Awesome, to include media literacy – specifically the ability to identify fake news and other bogus content. The company is introducing six new media literacy activities to the curriculum that will help kids avoid things like phishing attacks, what bots are, how to verify the credibility of information, how to evaluate sources, how to spot disinformation online, fake urls and more.
The new media literacy courses – which frankly should be read by some adults – were developed in collaboration with Anne Collier, Executive Director of The Net Safety Collaborative, and Faith Rogow, Ph.D., co-author of The Teacher’s Guide to. develops media literacy and co-founded the National Association for Media Literacy Education.
“We need the right tools and resources to help children get the most out of technology, and while families have good resources for digital security and citizenship, more can be done for media literacy,” writes the educator and founder from Teachingmama.com, Amy Mascott, in an announcement today on the Google blog. “I’ve worked with dozens of educators who believe media literacy is essential to security and citizenship in the digital age, but I agree that it is an issue that can be difficult to deal with.”
In addition to providing instruction, the courses provide children with a combination of activities and discussion starters designed to help them develop critical thinking as they locate online resources.
The overall theme, the course material explains, is to help children understand that the content they find online is not necessarily true or reliable – and it could even include malicious attempts to steal their information or identity.
The children learn how phishing works, why it is a threat and how to avoid it. They then practice their anti-phishing skills by acting out and discussing reactions to suspicious online texts, posts, friend requests, pictures and emails.
In the field of bots, you will learn how AI works and compare conversations with a bot and conversations with humans.
In the following sections on media literacy, children will learn what a credible source is, how to find a source’s motives, and learn that “just because a person is an expert on something does not make them an expert on everything”.
In a similar classroom activity, the children choose a question about something they’ve seen online or are learning in class and try to get the answers online while figuring out whether the sources are credible.
You will also learn to compare credible sources with other credible sources to look for a variety of sources.
“If you cannot find a variety of credible sources that match the source you are reviewing, then don’t believe that source,” the curriculum says.
It also teaches children how to use clues such as misleading URLs to identify fake information and verify sources for credibility. They are told that some people don’t know how to do this and they share fake information online – and that’s how it spreads.
“There are many people and groups who are so passionate about what they believe that they twist the truth to get us to agree with them. If the twisted information is disguised as a news story, that’s disinformation, ”says the curriculum.
Kids are also being informed that some of the fake news organizations are hard to spot because they use names that sound like the real thing.
And the course covers different tricks some websites use – like using photos that are unrelated to the story, clickbait words like “shocking” or “outrageous” that they know will make people curious , Bold type, underline, exclamation point, or UPPER CASE to convince you to agree with them.
This section ends with an online game, Reality River, that challenges kids to use their best judgment to cross the rapids. This takes place in Interland, the game developed to complement Google’s digital security and citizenship curriculum.
The overall goal of the media literacy course is to encourage children to make all news and information into a habit – not just those they think are suspicious.
According to Google, the new curriculum is available online for both teachers and families and is offered in English, Spanish and eight other languages.
Google is working with the YMCA and the National PTA in several cities to also host online safety workshops.