Vodafone UK today published new research to mark Safer Internet Day (9th February), exploring teenagers’ perceptions of ‘fake news’, misinformation and the reliability of the information they find online. Almost half (46%), have fallen for fake news and half (49%) of teenagers surveyed said they were more aware of fake news in 2020 compared to previous years. Vodafone has released tips for parents and children on how to deal with fake news on its Digital Parenting hub.
The research shows that young people are regularly exposed to fake news, with teenagers reporting to see fake stories an average of 17 times per month, and one in three believing they think they see fake news every day. Over 46% teenagers say they have fallen for fake news before and one in three (29%) think they are susceptible to fake news. Teenage girls are more likely to fall for fake news, at 57% compared to 43% of boys.
Perceptions around fake news
7 in 10 (70%) of those surveyed correctly identified fake news as ‘misleading information which is presented as news and spread online’. However, wider perceptions around fake news indicate a lack of comprehensive understanding on the subject – with 21% thinking fake news refers to ‘things Donald Trump says that aren’t true’. Meanwhile, a third of young people (34%) think fake news refers to photoshopped pictures.
Topics of fake news
With the spread of misinformation reaching new highs last year, the research highlights key topics of fake news in 2020: Covid-19 and the vaccine (46%), Donald Trump (27%), the UK lockdowns (22%), the end of the world (23%), and at home DIY remedies (12%), such as fake cures and health advice.
Identifying fake news
Just over half (55%) of teenagers think they can distinguish fake news from the truth, with proportions increasing with age – almost 6 in 10 (58%) 17-19 year olds say they can spot fake news, compared with just over half (52%) of 13-16 year olds. However, the research indicates that tech-savvy teens are using their digital skills to spot the real from the fake and over half (55%) of teenagers, think they are better equipped to spot fake news than their parents.
Main sources of fake news
Predictably, three-quarters of teens (77%) reported seeing the most fake news on social media platforms – far higher than on news websites (15%) and in newspapers or magazines (13%).
Combating fake news
Encouragingly, one third (33%) of teenagers say someone has taught them how to spot and report fake news and combat misinformation, with this person most likely to be a parent (49%), a teacher (42%) or a friend (17%). And, 27% have learnt how to spot fake news using an online resource, again increasing with age to 32% of 17-19 year olds and 19% of 13-16 year olds suggesting this is the case.
Vodafone’s Digital Parenting Tips – Five ways to spot fake news
To avoid being tricked by fake news, ask your child to consider these questions:
- Is it being reported elsewhere – have you seen this story in other places e.g. on TV or radio?
- Is the site name normal – do you trust the website where you saw this story? Check the URL: it should have .org or .com or .co.uk at the end, not an unusual jumble of letters.
- Do the photos and videos look accurate or could they be photoshopped?
- Headlines matter – but so does content: read the entire piece before you share a story to be sure it’s an article you are happy to endorse.
- If you’re unsure – ask a trusted adult for a view.
For more advice on navigating fake news, visit: https://www.vodafone.co.uk/mobile/digital-parenting/rollup-fakenews