More than fabricated news reports: Children’s perspectives and experiences of fake news



#fakenews #youth #socialmedia

This study aims to explore what kinds of social media services children use in their everyday lives, how children describe their strategies for spotting fake news, and what kinds of fake news they report having encountered in their lived experiences. The article is based on an online questionnaire conducted in Finnish comprehensive schools with children and young people (N = 167) aged 12–15. The results show that children are active users of various social media services and that they accessed social media every day. Children perceived the fake news as much more than fabricated news reports and weaved them together with ordinary lies, rumors, and false information shared in the form of links, videos, posts, messages, and stories. Children recognized that fake news can be produced and shared by anyone with various intentions, including financial and ideological gains, but also personal gains of digital capital, causing confusion, cheating, pranking, and bullying. Children also provided examples of various kinds of myths, rumors, and false information spreading in their online communities. Notably, children typically described fake news in terms of its believability and intentions, but deeper-level evaluation strategies, such as the evaluation of the quality and consistency of evidence, were much less discussed. The results contribute to the body of literature by providing children’s perspectives regarding the complex problem of fake news and signal the need to develop pedagogical approaches that help children to better understand the basic mechanisms of machine learning, including tracking and profiling, behavior/attention engineering, and psychometrics-based advertising.

Type of Publication
media literacy
Journal of Media Literacy Education
Publishing Date
Henriikka Vartiainen; Juho Kahila; Matti Tedre; Erkko Sointu; Teemu Valtonen