Children are on the Lookout for Fake News, Says Ofcom Report

90% of 12-15 year olds say they ‘always, ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ stop to consider the truth of a story they come across online, according to a new report published by Ofcom, demonstrating that youngsters are aware of the concept of fake news.

Reporting on the attitudes and usage of media channels by children and their parents, the media watchdog found that 99% of 12-15 year olds spend nearly 21 hours a week online, and 74% of this age group have a social media profile.

Mauro Silva, Senior Vice President at Modern Times Group, said “These young people are amongst the first generation that are actually digital and technology dependent. In our post-truth society, where objective facts are less important in shaping people’s opinions than what appeals to emotions or personal beliefs, one might assume that children would be particularly vulnerable to fake news – this younger generation is perhaps more discerning in the digital environment.

“The so-called ‘Gen Zs’, aged between 7 and 20, are defined by having a sense of purpose and wanting to work for the greater good. They care a lot about who transmits the news, and they trust their inner circle of friends much more than any media corporation. It’s great to see that young people taking an interest in the news, and learning to be astute when coming across questionable sources.”

“The internet is a difficult place to learn about the world,” said Alex Krasodomski-Jones, Digital Researcher at the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) at Demos. “It takes a lot of skill to be able to navigate the internet and try to make sense of everything; we need to build up this skill set to be able to distinguish what is truthful content, so we know when we’re being lied to. The findings of the Ofcom report suggest that the younger generation are already learning and sharpening this skill.”