Local teachers educate students on how to recognize fake news

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Fake news has been such a hot topic over the past several months that now local teachers are even incorporating it into lesson plans.

By now, many adults have learned the tell-tale signs of fake news online, yet kids may not know. That’s why some teachers, from elementary school all the way through college, are starting to talk about it.

The goal is teaching kids how to distinguish fact from fiction and why they should care about the difference. Many teachers say curbing fake news can start in the classroom. They’re teaching students to use common sense to question stories and to look critically at web addresses and authors.

It’s happening in schools in the East too, including G.R. Whitfield. Media Coordinator Katherine Toriello says she teaches 7th graders in her Digital Literacy class how to recognize a hoax and tell whether a source is legitimate.

“I’d say a majority of people that get their news especially the younger ones are getting them from social media and so they’re not actually seeking it out. It’s just kind of popping up on their account. So since they’re doing that younger and younger, we need to teach them at a younger age how to identify what’s legitimate,” said Toriello.

It’s a focus for college professors too. ECU Communication Professor Dr. Cindy Elmore says it frequently comes up in her classes.

“Even my students, they’ll go to a website and say well this looks good and I’ll say ‘well do you know who put this together?’ And they’ll say ‘I don’t know. Why would I know that?’ And I would say ‘at least go to the about us page before you determine something about this,’” Dr. Elmore said.

Social media sites are taking note too. Facebook has been working with fact checking organizations to come up with new measures to prevent fake news stories from being shared.

A recent Stanford study shows more than 80% of students cannot identify fake news from real news.

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