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NEWS29 November 2017

Older children more aware of fake news

Media News UK

UK – Older children are increasingly aware of the concept of fake news, with many taking steps to determine whether a story accessed via social media is true, according to research from Ofcom.

Seventy-three percent of 12- 15-year-olds online are aware of fake news, and four in 10 said they have seen a fake story online or on social media channels. 

The ‘Children and Parents Media Use and Attitudes Report 2017’ also found that children are increasingly questioning the news content they see on social media, with 86% of those who access news via social media saying they would take at least one step to check whether a story is truthful.

Almost half ( 48%) said they would check to see if a news story had appeared elsewhere. Other approaches to verify authenticity include: reading the comments, checking whether the organisation behind the story is one they trust, and assessing the quality of the article.

However, almost half ( 46%) of 12- 15-year-olds who use social media sources for news say they find it difficult to tell whether a story is true and 8% said they wouldn’t make any checks.

Social media is the second most popular source of news for 12- to 15-year-olds, according to the study, with over half ( 54%) accessing online news via platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, compared to 62% obtaining news from TV.

However, only a third ( 32%) who say social media is one of their top news sources believe news accessed via such platforms is always or mostly truthful. They have a higher level of trust in news reported on TV and radio (both at 59%).

Emily Keaney, head of children’s research at Ofcom, said: “Most older children now use social media to access news, so it’s vitally important they can take time to evaluate what they read, particularly as it isn’t always easy to tell fact from fiction.

“It’s reassuring that almost all children now say they have strategies for checking whether a social media news story is true or false. There may be two reasons behind this: lower trust in news shared through social media, but the digital generation are also becoming savvy online.”

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