Where did the term ‘fake news’ come from?

The term ‘fake news’ first came to the fore during the course of the American Presidential election, when Donald Trump used it to describe some of the news reporting around the campaigns.

Since then ‘fake news’ has become news in its own right as we increasingly see it make our headlines and featuring on our news bulletins. There are concerns that its proliferation is disrupting elections around the world and its one of the most talked about subjects of the year.

But what is fake news? What does it mean to you? And what should we be teaching our children about it?

A recent BBC survey sent to 18 countries around the world found that nearly 8 in 10 people said they worried about what was fake and what was real on the internet. So it’s vital that children learn to question what they see and read and have the opportunity to discuss it and share their views.

Most school children know what fake news is, but many of them weren’t always able to correctly identify it.

Teachers tell me: “Most children know that fake news exists but when tested – they aren’t so sure! They just don’t know what they are looking for”.

Being news savvy is crucial as it empowers children and keeps them engaged and motivated to find out about the world around them.

Fake news can easily go viral via social media so we need to give our children the tools to decide what’s real and what’s fake. Its not always easy to spot but here’s our top 5 tips for helping children spot fake news:

1. Question, question question!

Who made this? Who is the target audience? Who paid for this? Or, who gets paid if you click on this? Who might benefit or be harmed by this message?

2. Is the article especially angry or emotional?

If it makes you feel very strongly, it could be ‘clickbait’ a grabbing headline to get you to follow a link.

3. Check what other media are saying

Don’t rely on a single source. Are other well-known news providers sharing this news story? If not, it may not have been verified.

4. Spell check!

Obvious grammatical errors or spelling mistakes can be a sign that an article hasn’t been professionally produced or proofread and can be a giveaway.

5. Facts, facts, facts!

What proof or evidence does the article give? Does it cite credible research or expert opinions?

Katie Harrison is an early-years educational expert and founder of Picture News – a new service for schools helping them teach children about the news. Find out more at Picture News