Civic Media Literacy is Critical to Misinformation Prevention

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Media/online literacy is critical if the world expects progress in the battle against misinformation online. A 2018 paper on media literacy by Erica Hodgin and Joe Kane in the journal Social Education [1], revealed that many secondary school students cannot tell the difference between a real news story and an advertisement/sponsored content. Hodgin and Kane show that 84% of youth expressed the desire to learn how to discern the trustworthiness of online news and information. After civic media literacy training, 26% of youth interviewed were more likely to judge an evidence-based post online as accurate and an inaccurate post as inaccurate. Youth with no media literacy learning generally could not judge the difference between accurate and inaccurate posts online. Civic online reasoning was described in their paper as “the ability to effectively search for, evaluate, and verify social and political information online. Which includes the ability to identify who is behind a piece of information, to evaluate the evidence, and to investigate additional sources.” Other ‘soft skills’ are required: exercising ‘click restraint’, cultivating empathy and constructive engagement with other people online. Also important is that students need to always be conscious of the fact that their own opinions, biases and sensibilities may influence their evaluation of a claim being made online. “By understanding how their prior beliefs may elicit positive or negative feelings that bias their processing of information, students can work to ensure these triggered reactions do not eclipse their efforts to assess the accuracy and credibility of an argument.


[1] Erica Hodgin and Joe kane. “Misinformation in the Information Age: What Teachers Can Do to Support Students.” Social Education 82(4), pp. 208–211, 214



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