What should my kid do if they suspect a website is untrustworthy?

There's so much fake news online that Google and Facebook are starting to actively crack down on publishers of false or misleading news. But ad-supported networks are in somewhat of a bind, since they get money when users click on these stories -- so the crazier the headline, the more money they make.

Most kids and teens get a lot of news from their feeds, not directly from a newspaper or other traditional publication, so they need to learn how to view stories critically. Even little kids can start to think about some key media-literacy questions. And as kids get older, parents can help kids become more sophisticated critical thinkers.

When a site looks untrustworthy or fake, help your kid dig a little deeper.

Follow the media-literacy steps. These will help you think through your doubts.

  • Fact-check. Use Snopes, Wikipedia articles (with citations!), Google, Know Your Meme, and these fact-checking resources.
  • Google the author. Verify the author's qualifications and see what else they've written.
  • Cross-check with other sources. Consider whether other news outlets are reporting the same news.
  • Check your emotions. Clickbait and fake news strive for extreme reactions. If the news you're reading makes you feel really angry or super smug, it could be a sign that you're being played. Check multiple sources before trusting.
  • Don't lose hope. There's a lot of money to be made with fake news and stories through online advertising. It's maddening, but it's reality. Remember, real stories by real journalists probably won't have knock-your-socks-off headlines and wild claims. Reward yourself for learning to recognize the difference.
  • Don't share. Don't spread misinformation! The more you click, the more money the creators get.
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