Liz Atwood talks about deciphering truth vs. fiction on the Internet in this week's Tween Tuesday
If it's on the Internet, it must be true, right? At least that's what many children believe, according to a recent study at the University of Connecticut. The researchers asked a group of seventh graders to research the tree octopus and directed them to a website for information. According to the site, the rare creature lives in the rainforests on the West Coast. It has eight arms and a soft body, just like a regular octopus. But it doesn't exist; the website was bogus. Nevertheless, the students who saw the site thought it was real.
The researchers say this study points out the need to better develop the kids' critical thinking skills and teach them to question information — even that found on the Internet.
While schools bear some of the responsibility, certainly we as parents do as well. We need to be clear to our children that not everything they read is true and to teach them strategies for evaluating the information they find on the Internet.
Here are some tips:
1. What is the source of the information?
2. Is this information only on one site? Is the site reputable, such as a government or education site (hint: URL ends in edu or gov)
3. Does the information seem credible?