The time has come for our schools to consider a media literacy curriculum | The new time
I’m not the most perfect parent, but imagine I’m like many of them in the digital age. When I hear children and disinformation are mentioned in the same breath, I fearfully wonder how the internet could affect them.
The problem isn’t that you haven’t applied adequate parental controls on the computer they’re using. The fact is that with so many sources of information on the Internet, it is difficult to distinguish between facts and half-truths or lies.
It is true that not all of our children and teenagers are online, but they are just as suggestible and will at some point grapple with the effects of disinformation, which can corrupt and harm a carefully cultivated worldview and values.
This is a known problem and parents have their role, but not all have the knowledge or ability to effectively guide children in internet matters.
Then there are the adolescents and teenagers who think they know more than their parents but cannot tell whether the blue check marks on an influencer’s name mean they are familiar with the information they are spitting out or not.
The question is, which information and media competence structures do we have in order to better prepare children and young people for dealing with the distorted information in fake news?
Here I am thinking of schools and the educational policies that anticipate an evolving society to enable citizens to thrive in it.
It may be necessary to first remember that there are two types of fake news, misinformation and disinformation.
An example of misinformation can be a story you share because you think it is true when it is not and is therefore misleading. While it could negatively affect the person receiving it, it was not intended to harm or manipulate.
Disinformation, on the other hand, is false information that is created and passed on in order to deliberately harm or manipulate the person who receives it.
Fake news is spread by spammers and trolls, politicians, even advertising agencies and governments, all of whom are familiar with how the web works.
They are often backed by social media platforms that use artificial intelligence to amplify the information, whether misleading and harmful or not, in a profitable way.
While there are tools on the Internet to help children deal with disinformation, they may not be appropriate. Critical thinking doesn’t help in the fight against misinformation.
According to digital literacy experts, the way we are taught from an early age to evaluate information and think critically is fundamentally flawed and out of step with the chaos of the current internet.
It is possible, as suggested in a formula, a student can quickly check whether an argument is true compared to mainstream sources and determine whether the provider of the challenged information is a plausible authority.
A few private schools aside, it is doubtful that our public schools have attempted to adopt such formulas even when offering computer courses.
Most of them still do not have the internet, while the vast majority of children do not have the opportunity to go online either at home or outside the internet.
However, this is the digital age and they will go online sooner or later as schools upgrade.
In the meantime, even many of those who are already online are not sufficiently prepared for the harmful aspects of the Internet.
While some of the young people online are savvy enough to deal with fake news, many others are not.
If this is not already being considered, it is time our schools have an information and media literacy curriculum in place that will help them understand the social and economic contexts that affect the creation and dissemination of information.
Remember that the providers of fake news manipulate the social and economic infrastructure and become more sophisticated as the complexity of the Internet increases.
More than a mere formula, it will prepare young people better if they are taught how traditional and new media such as the Internet work.