Information Literacy for Kids and Teens
“The teacher said we can’t use the internet.”
The San Rafael Public Library has a vast collection of books on every topic for your information needs, but don’t forget to check out our online homework resources to find vetted information from reputable publishers. Our e-resources combine reliability with the convenience of researching from home or wherever you have internet access.
“The teacher said we can use the internet, but not Wikipedia.”
- Ask your teacher or librarian to help you formulate a search if you are uncertain how to begin.
- Learn how to use Google’s advanced search capabilities.
- Use the CRAAP test to assess your results. Developed by librarians at California State University, Chico, this list of questions will help you to determine the reliability of information found on the web. Briefly, CRAAP stands for:
Currency – How old is the information?
Relevance – Is this information at the right level for you? Does it answer your question?
Authority – Who said so? Is the writer reliable?
Accuracy – From where did the information come? Is it really true? Do other experts respect this
Purpose — Is somebody trying to sell you on an idea? What are the motives of the writer?
To see the complete list of questions, go to: (https://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf)
“I just won a $100 gift card, and all I need to do is click this button to collect it!”
Though children become computer savvy with far more ease than adults, their judgment calls are still in need of adult supervision. Internet safety strategies may vary according to your child’s age. Following are some resources to help:
Get Net Wise aggregates articles and tips on internet safety for kids, created by the non-profit Internet Education Foundation.
NetSmartz Internet Safety, created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Digital Citizenship curriculum from Common Sense Media.
Avoiding Fake News: Navigating Truth and Lies on the Internet
“Hey, I just found an article about space aliens at my school!”
- Apply the CRAAP test (above). See: https://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf
- Search for titles of articles, keywords, and phrases to see if a news story is likely to be fake. Also, check Snopes, Politifact, and Factcheck to assess authenticity.
- Melissa Zimdars, Assistant Professor of Communication and Media at Merrimack College created a resource for her students to evaluate the reliability of internet news: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10eA5-mCZLSS4MQY5QGb5ewC3VAL6pLkT53V_81ZyitM/preview
This handy, short list is reprinted here:
- Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo. These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packages that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).
- Watch out for websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources
- Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
- Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
- Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
- Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).
- Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
- Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.
- If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.
- If the website you’re reading encourages you to dox individuals, it’s unlikely to be a legitimate source of news (Doxxing means to find and publish private information about someone as a form of harassment, revenge, or punishment).
- It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not yet included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.
For more resources and tips on analyzing the credibility and reliability of information sources, please explore the following resources:
- Help! My News is Fake! a guide by Indiana University East.
- Nine Videos on News Literacy from Edutopia.
- Digital Resource Center by Stony Brook University.
- Truth, truthiness, triangulation: A news literacy toolkit for a “post-truth” world from School Library Journal.