On fake news and how you can “possibly” educate adults to stop sharing them
August 2, 2020
Do you ever miss the old social media world where the only things you see were games, random status updates, and yellow-filtered selfies? It was all fun and entertaining until it becomes a platform for disseminating fake news. Baseless, sensationalized news now spread like wildfire, and for some reason, people keep believing and sharing them on their feed, group chats, and even with their families.
And I know you know who is most likely to share them – it’s the adults (or boomers, if you want to call it that way).
Misinformation amongst adults
In a recent study conducted by researchers in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience at Harvard, people age over 65 years old are seven times more likely to share false articles vs. younger generations. Here are the probable reasons why adults share fake news more often based on the research:
Digital media illiteracy – Boomers tend to be less skeptical when it comes to the trustworthiness of news they read on the internet.
Trusting their network more than the sources – When an adult’s friends share news on social media, regardless if it’s fake or not, they immediately believe it’s factual simply because it is shared by someone in their network.
Their idea of truth – Adults are less likely to share factual news when it goes against their belief. Hence, they’re sharing only the ones that they BELIEVE is true because they agree with it, no matter how baseless it is.
While digital media literacy is a challenge amongst social media users in general, I believe the younger ones have a bigger role in educating adults who are commonly the victims of misinformation. We can start it at home. We can slowly but surely teach older people, like our parents, to identify reliable sources. I also asked a few friends in the community to share their thoughts on this matter.
Make them realize their source is unreliable
Back then, my parents used to be victims of fake news but I kept telling them it’s not true. Whenever they tell me something, I always ask “what’s your source?” and when they answer, my next question would be “is that a legitimate news source?” Chances are, they will think twice about where they get the fake news from. I always tell them what news sources they should follow and believe or wait for these legitimate media outlets to report the news before it’s considered proven. Eventually, my parents stopped believing sensationalized pages and that’s one less problem!
Also, when you see some people sharing false news, don’t be afraid to message or comment on the post that it is fake. Of course, you don’t need to be disrespectful to your parents or aunts and uncles. If they take your gesture as offensive, don’t fret. You are doing your part, so continue with it.
Ever since my mom started using Facebook, she always believes in baseless articles. We try our hardest to educate her and thankfully it has been helpful. What we did was we explained to her that fake news is a thing and that it’s so easy for anyone to create false statements online. We help her understand and educate that if she sees news from an unverified and unofficial page, don’t believe it – even if it’s shared by her close friends. Consistency leads to habits, and these form the actions that our parents or relatives take every day.
I think there’s no one easy way to properly educate boomers about fake news especially here in the Philippines. However, one thing that could help is by talking to them alone. Educating someone who’s older, boomers, may be seen as somewhat disrespectful. They may also feel belittled or embarrassed. So, it would be best to talk to them in private about topics like these, as a courtesy since they are from an older generation.
When you tell them that what they have shared is not true, it’s an opportune time to share them factual news. All the time. Fake news is commonly spread through social media but one has to eradicate them by sharing news from reliable sources through your group chats or tagging them in it. It also helps to remind them to befriend and connect only with people they personally know. Moreover, introduce them to established news and media sources so they would know which ones are fake right off the bat.
Taylor Swift’s lyrics in her new song, Cardigan, probably sums up the whole thing: “When you are young, they assume you know nothing.” Boomers can sometimes be really hard to talk to and educate. Some of them don’t like to admit that they’re wrong, or that they have been tricked by fake news. One thing you can do is to endure and be more understanding. Be patient and don’t lose hope because they will eventually get your point on why you keep convincing them to stop spreading fake news.
Educating adults on fake news is not an easy feat. You may or may not win it, but at least you take baby steps to lessen the number of misinformation. It works better if people are actually willing to be educated and learn from it, but if they are blinded by plain idolatry, that, my friend, is a different case to write about.
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