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Children 'need to be taught critical literacy skills to spot fake news'

14/09/2017 Kelly

Schools need to dedicate more time to equipping their students with the ability to recognise fake news when they see it, according to a new report.

The National Literacy Trust has published 'Fake News and Critical Literacy: An Evidence Review', which has raised concerns that digital and social media is enabling fake news to spread at an unprecedented rate, undermining democracy, confidence in governance and trust in journalism.

Of particular concern is the fact that more young people than ever are using digital media as their main source of news, with one in five children believing everything they read online is true.

Primary and secondary school teachers were identified as being ideally placed to help children develop the critical literacy skills needed to help children escape the influence of fake news by recognising the difference between fact and opinion, understanding how authors use language to influence a reader, and making reasoned arguments.

However, it also noted that a lack of teacher training, resources and confidence means they are not able to fulfil this role to the extent that might be desired, which is why the government is currently taking steps to tackle the problem.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: "In this digital age, children who can't question and determine the reliability of the information they find online will be hamstrung - at school, at work and in life.

"We believe that teachers are the key to boosting children's critical literacy skills, but they can't do this without the proper training, support and resources."

In response to the report, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Literacy has launched a commission on fake news and the teaching of critical literacy skills in schools, which will gather evidence from schoolchildren, education professionals, policymakers and the media before making a series of recommendations in summer 2018.

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