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  • 4 Tips for Helping Your Teen Sort Through Misinformation Online

    In today’s digital age, there’s a lot of information readily available right at your fingertips. You no longer have to go to the library or talk to a subject expert in a field to get necessary, relevant, and factual information. 

    A quick Google search will pull up multiple results for someone to read up on any topic. All the information that can be so easily found online can make it difficult to sort through. It’s hard to know the difference between real and factual information versus someone’s lies, opinions, or misinformation with all of the content available on the internet.

    As an adult, you’ve probably learned some hard lessons and truths. You want to make sure you’re setting your children up for success.

    Here are 4 tips for helping your teen sort through misinformation online. 

    1. Continue Reading After the Headline

    Limited character counts on headlines and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are causing people to react instantly. Headlines force people to stop and engage with the content at the moment. Writers carefully curate and craft a headline that prompts a response.

    Most people today read quickly to get through as much information and content as they possibly can. They’re constantly browsing or swiping to make sure they’re not missing any posts from their friends or followers. Encourage your teen to read beyond just the headlines so they receive all of the information, not just the catchy title.

    2. Double Check the Source

    No matter what you read online, it’s important to double-check where the information is actually coming from. Take the time to do some research on your own end. Dive deeper into the website where the information you’re reading is living. Make sure you’re double-checking the date, time, and location of the article. Who owns the website? Check out some of the other information on the website. Try to identify any errors like typos or improper use of grammar. Contrary to popular belief, just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s true.

    3. Know What’s Factual vs. Opinion Based

    News stations used to be filled with information that was real, authentic, and factual. The news today shares information that is actually happening in the world, but the news also has a lot of other people’s personal opinions mixed in. This can make it hard for viewers and readers to know the difference between what’s real and what’s just someone’s opinion. Make sure your teen is prepped and ready to identify facts versus opinions.

    4. Consider Sponsored Content

    Teenagers will have to sort through misinformation that is spread through social media posts, stories, and reels. They may also have to identify celebrities or social media influencers who are pushing products that they actually trust, love, and use, or if they’re just pushing a product to receive payment.

    If you’re wondering if someone you follow is promoting a product they’re actually using and love, pay close attention to their regular posts. If you’re having a hard time determining what’s real, try looking for specific hashtags like #sponsored, #ad, #partner, or #sponsorship.

    How to Help Your Teen

    Teenagers have the entire world readily available at the tip of their fingers. Your teen may have access to computers, laptops, iPads, and smartphones. The technology world is constantly growing. Getting your child comfortable with these devices can help them develop and grow.

    If your teenager owns a device that can access information online, you must work with them to help them sort through any potential misinformation online. We’re here to help you and your teen. Reach out today to see how we can help you both.