2019-03-27

New tool helps parents ferret out fake news

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>MEDIA SMARTS/FACEBOOK PHOTO</p><p>Media Smarts noted on its Facebook page in October, 2018 that 53 per cent of all Canadian children under 15 have their own smart phones.</p>

As so-called "fake news" and other deceptions becomes increasingly linked to modern communications, the South Shore Regional Centre for Education (SSRCE) is inviting parents to test their skills in determining what's true and false online.

This month's Regional Executive Director's (RED's) report for parents and community members - the first from the SSRCE's new RED, Paul Ash - includes a link to the Media Smarts Reality Check game.

"On the internet, it can be hard to tell what's true and what's false-but we have to make a lot of decisions based on how reliable we think things are," the RED's report notes.

The game is designed to teach players how to find clues such as where a story originated and compare it to other sources, as well as how to use tools such as fact-checking sites and reverse image searches.

"Given the world we live in these days, kids are getting access to devices at such a young age," says Angelina McConnell, the SSRCE's communications manager.

She maintains today's busy parents don't always have the time to research issues such as online safety techniques for their children.

"When it comes to Google and looking things up, it's almost an information overload for parents. You could get lost in looking at article after article after article about digital safety," she told LighthouseNOW.

In early March, the SSRCE sent out information to parents around the MOMO challenge, according to CKBW. McConnell told the broadcaster that even the challenge is a hoax that it was still scaring children, so they wanted to provide parents with tips around cyber-safety.

The MOMO challenge hoax spread swiftly through the media in late February, sparking panic among parents and showing the kind of damage fakes news can cause.

McConnell obtained the link to the reality check game from RCMP resources. The game covers everything from social media safety to child exploitation and how to look out for scams.

The game is hosted by Media Smarts, an Ontario-based, non-governmental education organization.

On its Facebook page, it describes itself as "Canada's centre for digital and media literacy," which is focused on providing educational resources for a "media savvy" generation.

The game can be accessed at: http://mediasmarts.ca/digital-media-literacy/educational-games/reality-check-game

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