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Almost 2 in 5 young people have seen fake news online

Ofcom have today released the findings from their 2017 Children's media use and attitudes report, which focuses on children’s behaviour online and the way in which they interact with fake news.

The Ofcom report found that in 2017 nine in ten 5-15 year olds (92%) are online, an increase from last year when 87% of this age were online. The research also found that more than half of 3-4 year olds (53%) and 79% of 5-7s are online.

Young people getting their news through social media

More than half (54%) of 12-15 year olds use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to access online news, making it the second most popular source of news after television (62%).

However, many young people recognise that news they access on social media may not always be from a reputable source. Just 32% of 12-15 year olds who say social media is one of their top news sources believe news accessed through these sites is always, or mostly, reported truthfully, compared to 59% who say this about TV and 59% about radio.

Young people are questioning the content they see

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of online teens are aware of the concept of ‘fake news’, and four in ten (39%) say they have seen a fake news story online or on social media. 

The vast majority of 12-15s who follow news on social media are questioning the content they see. Almost nine in ten (86%) say they would make at least one practical attempt to check whether a social media news story is true or false.

Positively, the main approaches older children say they would take include:

  • Seeing if the news story appears elsewhere (48% of children who follow news on social media would do this)
  • Reading comments after the news report in a bid to verify its authenticity (39%)
  • Checking whether the organisation behind it is one they trust (26%)
  • Assessing the professional quality of the article (20%)

The young people also had techniques for what to do if they saw fake news online: 35% said they would tell their parents or other family member; 18% would leave a comment saying they thought the news story was fake; and 14% would report the content to the social media website directly.

Read the full 2017 Ofcom report.

Do you want to start a conversation with your children about using technology safely and positively? Our conversation starters can help you.