Fake News DilemmaHow you can support young people in their information literacy

War in Ukraine, climate crisis or most recently the severe earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. - Young people find out about current news and socio-political issues primarily via social media. Traditional media are playing an increasingly minor role. At the same time, adolescents perceive social media as not particularly credible and find themselves in a fake news dilemma. This is shown by a recent study by Saferinternet.at in Austria. We provide tips and advice on how to educate young people in dealing with disinformation and promote their information literacy.

Paradoxical information behavior of young people

As the JIM Study 2022 shows, the war of aggression on Ukraine, climate change, Corona and diversity in society are among the most important topics for 12 to 19-year-olds in 2022. But where exactly do young people find out about current topics? Which news sources do they use? This is the subject of a new study by Saferinternet.at on the information behavior of young people in Austria. According to the study, social media such as Instagram and TikTok are among the most important sources for finding out about current topics. They are used by 80 percent of young people daily or several times a week. 75 percent inform themselves via YouTube, because influencers also serve as a source of information and news. This is followed by streaming platforms (59%), television (54%), and blogs and general websites of traditional media (39%). Printed daily newspapers play an increasingly minor role in comparison, at 17%. In Germany, too,Instagram (30%) and TikTok (25%) are among the top 5 most important news sources, according to the JIM Study 2022 .

Although social media are among the most important sources of information for young people, they rate their credibilityas low. According to the Saferinternet.at study, only eight percent of respondents consider social networks to be "very credible". As part of the JIM Study 2022, young people were asked about the credibility of specific news offerings: 65 percent have a strong trust in the "Tagesschau/Tagesthemen," followed by public radio stations (58%) and regional daily newspapers (52%). 47 percent rate the "Heute Journal" as very trustworthy.

Information Paradox

Young people find themselves in a dilemma: Although they do not attach too much credibility to social media and are aware of possible false reports, they use social media as the most important source of information on current topics. Young people are well aware of this contradiction, but often do not know how to deal with it.

According to the Saferinternet.at study ,almost half of young people are oftenunsure whether information on the Internet is correct or whether it is fake news. Dealing with fake news is difficult for them. Many adolescents find it tedious to check information and sources, even though they are basically interested in them. They often lack the necessary knowledge, for example where they can check news.

How parents and educational professionals can educate

In order for young people to be able to form a secure opinion, they need information literacy. That's why it's important for parents and educators to practicedealing with disinformation with them and make it clear how they can recognize misleading news on the Internet, how they can have dubious news checked, and which reputable information offerings can be found in social media.

Point out reputable news offerings for young people in social media, for example:

  • News-WG is an information format of Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) on Instagram.
  • Nicetoknow is a WDR news format on TikTok for young people, with young people.
  • funk from ARD and ZDF is active on various social media channels, e.g. Instagram and TikTok, and is aimed at teenagers and young adults aged 14 and over with a mix of information, orientation and entertainment.
  • Tagesschau short clips from ARD on YouTube are hosted by young people and provide an understandable insight into daily news in just a few minutes.

Also point out fact checker offerings that help debunk false news, for example:

In the klicksafe topic area "Disinformation and opinion" you can find more tips and advice.

With klicksafe materials for more media competence

klicksafe offers comprehensive materials to promote information literacy, opinion formation and dealing with fake news.

For young people:

For educational professionals:

For parents:

News test

Can you spot false news right away? What is a reputable source? Is it an opinion piece or an info report? The news test provides information about your personal news competence. Test your knowledge in the areas of judging, fact-checking, talking along, and knowledge and understanding. At the end of the test you will find out your result, also in comparison to the German average.