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It must be true... I googled it

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A new report, co-written by QUT, shows more than half of Australian school children consuming news on the internet hardly ever or never check if it’s fake. 69 per cent say news makes them feel smart or knowledgeable but 54% of young people don’t check whether news stories are true. 

Key findings of the survey of 1000 children aged between 8 and 16 included:

  • 54% of young people don’t check whether news stories are true
  • 69% say news makes them feel smart or knowledgeable
  • 71% say news is distressing and often or sometimes makes them feel upset or sad
  • 63% say news organisations have no idea what their lives are like
  • One in five had lessons in school in the past year to help them work out if news stories could be trusted

 The report was released at the first national news and media literacy conference for kids and teens, hosted by Crinkling News. One of the lead authors, Assoc Prof Michael Dezuanni, from QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre, said the report detailed how 8-16 year olds in Australia consume news.

The report found when it came to using social media to get news, the difference between younger children and teens was stark. For teens, Facebook was by far the most popular social media site for getting news, with over 51 per cent using it for this purpose, which was followed by YouTube on 30 percent and Instagram on 22 per cent and Snapchat on 21 per cent.

 “It is really that young people engage thoughtfully with news stories,” A/Prof Dezuanni said.

“The majority of young people value the role of news but also believe that the media does not understand them or accurately represent them.

His advice to check the believability of news included:-

  • Identify the source of a news story – if it’s not produced or distributed by a recognised news organisation, it’s right to question its truthfulness
  • Find references to a story in mainstream media, particularly through a reputable source like the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
  • Try to see if the story has been reported by several news agencies – if it has not, it is less likely to be true.

News and Australian Children: How Young People Access, Perceive and are Affected by the News was released by Western Sydney University, QUT and Crinkling News.

The weekly Crinkling News is aimed at seven- to 14-year-olds. It was founded by veteran journalists Saffron Howden and Remi Bianchi and uses a network of more than 50 professional journalists, photographers and cartoonists around the country and overseas.

"We cover all the news – without the boring or scary bits," Howden says.


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