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 »  Home  »  Business & Finance  »  Computers & Tech  »  Helping kids tell fact from opinion on the Internet
Helping kids tell fact from opinion on the Internet
By Tech Notes | Published  07/1/2006 | Computers & Tech | Rating:
Tech Notes
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The Internet offers tremendous resources and learning opportunities, but it also contains a great deal of information that may be neither helpful nor reliable. Since anyone can post comments or information on the Internet, users need to develop critical-thinking skills to judge the accuracy of online information.

This is particularly true for kids who tend to believe that, "If it's on the Internet, it must be true." Traditionally, printed resources have had gatekeepers, such as editors, proofreaders, and fact checkers to weed out mistakes, lies, and inaccurate information. However, the Internet, in many cases, has no safety guards when it comes to checking the validity of information posted online.

Teach kids how the Internet works and that Web sites can be established with no questions asked. Train them to use a wide variety of information resources and to check, question, and verify what they see online.

Tips for helping kids learn to spot misinformation:

Start when your children are young. Even preschool students are now using the Internet to look up information, so it's important to teach them early to distinguish fact from opinion and how to recognize bias, propaganda, and stereotyping.

Ask your kids about information that they find online. For example, what is the purpose of the site? To entertain? To sell? Does the site contain contact information for the author or an "About Us" section? Is the site sponsored by a certain company, a person, or is it a public conversation? Is the Internet the best place to find the information you're searching for?

Make sure your kids check the online information they collect against other sources. Refer to other Web sites or media, such as newspapers, magazines, and books to verify the information. Encourage them to check with you.

Encourage your kids to use a variety of information resources, not just the Internet. Take them to the library. Also, consider buying a good encyclopedia on CD-ROM, such as Microsoft Encarta. This will give them access to alternative sources of information.

Teach your kids techniques to effectively search out information online. This will greatly improve their ability to obtain quality information. One suggestion is to encourage them to use a variety of search engines rather than settling for just one site.

Discuss hatred and racism with your kids. Software filters can help block some of this type of material. Your kids, however, should learn about racism and world events so they can recognize hateful content. Learn more about How to deal with hateful content on the Internet.

This article is provided by the Microsoft: Securtiy at Home website. For more information, please visit

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