Helping Students Distinguish Between Real and Fake News

Detecting fake news has become a crucial skill in this day and age. Check out these tips for identifying the trustworthiness of a source.


It seems that these days, the words “fake news” are everywhere.

Social media allows for any information to spread rapidly -whether it be highly partisan with skewed facts or outright false!

As a result, kids are coming to school and stating “facts” and “events” that aren’t really true. Some news organizations even publish articles that state at the top that they are satire, but kids don’t realize or recognize what satire is, and then share it like it is fact.

Some sites get paid for the number of clicks on their website, so the catchier the title, the better. As a result, unsuspecting readers will click in and then share the information.

As adults, we have to help students discern what information is real and what information is fake.

Ways to Detect Fake News

Check the Editing

A credible source that wants to keep and maintain their status of credibility will work diligently to ensure that their site is properly edited.

A low quality, unreliable article might contain grammatical errors or words in caps where it is inappropriate. Teach students to notice these things and to question whether or not a credible source would make these mistakes.  

Consider the Source of your Source

Also, a credible website will ensure that they provide the source for their information. If there are claims with no support, then they are likely not to be true. Students need to consider who or what provided the information that the article is claiming. Teach the children you work with to identify the source of information that they are claiming as “truth.”  

Cross Reference Other Sources

I tell students to check the information on another site. A quick google search, particularly that leads them to other sites they have heard of, can tell students efficiently if the article is accurate.

Also, if something is a huge story, it seems likely that other news outlets would be reporting. If there is no other mention of this story, it seems unlikely that the story is true.

Give your students the space and time to explore what other sources say about the issues about which they are talking.  

Pictures and Advertisements

We need to teach students that if the websites they are on include advertisements that have women in bikinis—that might not be as credible a source as a website that includes pictures that are only relevant to the topic. Help your students evaluate the images on the screen and determine whether or not a credible source would include those images.  

Check Your Gut

We must teach students that if there first reaction is extreme shock or extreme anger, then it seems likely that some of the information is inflated in order to get a reaction out of them.

Breaking the Cycle

Ultimately, it is important that students are able to identify whether or not a source is true.

In this era, there is tons of information available online, and we need to teach our children how to be discerning when looking at this information.

We must teach our students to break the cycle of fake news so that they can make informed decisions.