Experts say ‘fake news’ is harming our children

Published: 11 August 2017

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Leading academics say fake news, misinformation and the rise of social media influencers are damaging our kids’ memory and distorting their view of the world.

They say the main problem is that children now struggle to distinguish what is real news and what is advertising.

News Corp reports that the news comes as a panel of psychologists, neuroscientists and media experts are gearing up to talk all things ‘Fake News’ as part of the Sydney Science Festival to be held at the Powerhouse Museum.

As part of a recent study conducted by Dr Celine Van Golde, associate lecturer at the University of Sydney, participants were shown a video of a crime before they were told to read a fake news story about the incident.

She said the study indicated that when given misinformation about the offender’s mental state, it altered partakers’ memory of what they just observed.

And Dr Van Golde says social media is mostly to blame.

“The advantage of the ­internet is that news can be reported at the time it’s happening, but on the other hand anyone can start a blog, YouTube title, online newspaper or scientific journal and publish it worldwide,” she told News Corp.

Additionally, childhood education senior lecturer from the University of Western Sydney, Dr Joanne Orlando, said social media influencers disguise advertising content, while fake news distorts a child’s perception of the world.

“It (fake news) can normalise things we don’t want normalised,” she said.

“For instance if a young person sees a lot of violent content masquerading as news stories they could start to see violence as normal behaviour.”