Children are aware of how to identify fake news, report claims

Older children are less trusting of news on social media than from other sources and employ a range of measures to separate fact from fiction, a report has claimed.

Children are savvy to fake news

More than half of 12 to 15 year olds use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to access online news, making it the second most popular source of news after television, according to the study from Ofcom.

The news children read through social media is provided by third-party websites - with just 32 per cent of older children who say social media is one of their top news sources believe news accessed through these sites is always, or mostly, reported truthfully, compared to 59 per cent who say this about TV and 59 per cent about radio.

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The vast majority of 12-15s who follow news on social media are questioning the content they see. Almost nine in ten say they would make at least one practical attempt to check whether a social media news story is true or false, such as seeing if a story appears elsewhere, reading comments after the news report in a bid to verify its authenticity, checking whether the organisation behind it is one they trust and assessing the professional quality of the article.

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.”