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Teenagers and Misinformation: Some Starting Points for Teaching Media Literacy

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Some young adults share misinformation because they think it is true.

Some young adults share misinformation impulsively, because they are too busy to verify the information.

Most young adults talk to their parents and guardians about what makes media sources trustworthy.

TikTok is a primary information source for people my age.

Social media often reduces complex issues to one-sentence explanations.

A lot of young people are politically polarized at a very young age, and are angry at anyone who believes differently than they do.

Media literacy education should start in middle or even elementary school, when children are just beginning to venture online.

The way media literacy is taught needs improvement.

After your students have finished the exercise, discuss as a class what you discovered. On which statements was there broad agreement? On which was there disagreement? Why do they think that what? What personal experiences would they like to share that helped inform how they feel about the subject of “media literacy”? What, if anything, do they think schools, teachers and librarians should do to improve how they teach about these topics?

Finally, have them read “When Teens Find Misinformation, These Teachers Are Ready,” perhaps annotating to note their reactions as they go. You might then ask:

1. What jumped out at you as you read? Why?

2. This article describes many ideas, including curriculums, games and even legislative initiatives, that have been tried in recent years to support media literacy in public schools. Which of these, if any, were familiar to you? Which, if any, do you wish our school could adopt?

3. What problems with teaching media literacy did this article identify? Do you think our school has experienced any of these struggles? If so, what should we do about them? Why?

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