Digital Naiveté is when a student trusts a source of information that is obviously unreliable.
Students today face a greater challenge in evaluating information than their parents or grandparents did at their age. The cumulative amount of information that exists on the planet, from the beginning of recorded history to the present, is, by realistic estimates, doubling every two years. And even though digital natives have grown up in the information age, many of the adults and institutions in their lives are still grappling with its implications. In other words, it's likely that the kind of credulity we see in young people reflects our own collective uncertainty about what we encounter on the digital frontier. Finally, the skills that students need to effectively sort fact from fiction are often missing from school curricula.
In fact, a recent study found that 84 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 25 say they would benefit from learning these skills. News literacy education has the potential to engage students and ignite their critical thinking. More importantly, it can empower them to make better-informed choices in their lives as they move beyond the classroom and into the world.
3 Exercises in News Literacy
Reinvent Current Events
Have students collect examples of information that they feel is timely and important. Then lead a discussion about who produced the content and for what purpose. Is it intended to inform? Persuade? Entertain? Sell?
Explore the Power of Information
Pose an "essential question for the day" that explores the power and impact of information (e.g., "What changes would we see in the U.S. if the First Amendment protections of speech and press were repealed?"). Then use such websites as the Committee to Protect Journalists or Reporters Without Borders to examine press freedoms around the world.
Display a different example of dubious information each week or month and challenge your students to research its accuracy using non-partisan fact-checking resources and advanced web searching. Give prizes or extra credit to those who get it right, or work collaboratively to seek answers as a class.
News literacy education has the potential to engage students and ignite their critical thinking. More importantly, it can empower them to make better-informed choices in their lives as they move beyond the classroom and into the world.
The News Literacy Project offers customized professional development workshops for schools, districts and other educational organizations. We seek to inspire our teachers as learning professionals and to give them concrete activities, tools and other strategies to introduce news literacy in the classroom. We also introduce our professional development participants to a variety of free, open-access digital resources and provide them with a copy of our news literacy primer for teachers that include sample lesson plans, activities and other approaches to incorporating news literacy into their teaching.
You can register for one of NLP's free online professional development workshops for teachers here.