- A recent survey of millennials by MindEdge, a Boston-based ed tech company, found only 24% of respondents were able to correctly answer most questions about discerning fake news.
- Colleges may not be helping millennials figure out what information is actually false; though 61% studied critical thinking, 13% were not sure if they received such training, and one in three reported they did not feel confident in their ability to determine what was true and what was false.
- 55% of respondents said they rely on social media, and 37% of respondents admitted they have inadvertently shared false information on social media. The survey was conducted with 1,000 millennials between the ages of 22 to 30.
Colleges and universities are increasingly becoming aware of the need to combat the epidemic of fake news and misleading reporting. College freshmen are entering schools more politically polarized than at any time in the past 50 years, and while political debates should not be ignored or sidestepped, polarization could lead towards a greater propensity towards fake news that supports the consumer’s worldview, becoming a cycle supporting itself. In the New York Times, Amanda Taub wrote that “Americans’ deep bias against the political party they oppose is so strong that it acts as a kind of partisan prism for facts, refracting a different reality to Republicans than to Democrats.”
While journalism students and other aligned disciplines are working to improve their education of how to spot fake news, maybe a wider, more multidisciplinary approach is required. Speaking about the pervasiveness of cyber security, NYU Professor Nasir Memon recently told Education Dive he thought it was likely that cybersecurity classes would soon be common for all engineering students, as it was a basic skill all engineers would need to know. Discerning fake news should be integrated into students’ general education in a similar way; like engineers’ need for cybersecurity know-how, all news consumers should have a grounding to understand when the news they are consuming may be false.