An Essential Skill

Today’s kids may have social media mastered, but when it comes to being savvy about the content they’re coming across, they still have some learning to do. A study published by Stanford late last year concluded that many school-age kids struggle to distinguish trustworthy sources from ones that aren’t.

There is no changing the fact that kids spend a lot of their time on devices—and that a lot of the information they’re receiving about the world around them comes from those devices. Ever had a child wanting to share something they read on the internet, and it turned out to be totally false? They’re being fed so much material at such a quick pace, it’s no wonder they don’t question whether their source is credible. How would they know to ask that question in the first place?

It’s our job as parents to sit down with our kids and show them the ropes of the digital world. Make it a learning experience for the both of you: ask your child to teach you about something they’re proficient in, like Snapchat, then offer to teach them how to tell the difference between fake accounts and verified ones, for example.

Even a simple conversation about ads and miscellaneous links can go a long way. The earlier kids are taught, the better off they’ll be.

In a world where fake news can go so far as inciting real-life danger, digital literacy has become an essential 21st century skill.

Here are some websites aimed at increasing online critical thinking skills:

http://mediasmarts.ca/digital-media-literacy/educational-games
https://digitalliteracy.gov/
http://digitalliteracy.cornell.edu/
http://www.snopes.com/
http://www.politifact.com/

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