Media Literacy for Adults

Research has shown that senior citizens can be even more vulnerable to fake news than kids.

Princeton University and New York University researchers examined who was sharing fake news on Facebook during the 2016 election. In January 2019, they reported that “on average, users over 65 shared nearly seven times as many articles from fake news domains as the youngest age group.”

    From Science Advances:

    “Our most robust finding is that the oldest Americans, especially those over 65, were more likely to share fake news to their Facebook friends. This is true even when holding other characteristics—including education, ideology, and partisanship—constant. No other demographic characteristic seems to have a consistent effect on sharing fake news, making our age finding that much more notable.”

    “First, following research in sociology and media studies, it is possible that an entire cohort of Americans, now in their 60s and beyond, lacks the level of digital media literacy necessary to reliably determine the trustworthiness of news encountered online (13, 14). There is a well-established research literature on media literacy and its importance for navigating new media technologies (15). Building on existing work (16, 17), researchers should further develop competency-based measures of digital media literacy that encompass the kinds of skills needed to identify and avoid dubious content designed to maximize engagement. Research on age and digital media literacy often focuses on youth skills acquisition and the divide between ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ (18), but our results suggest renewed focus on the oldest age cohorts.”

    Adult media literacy classes can begin to remedy this issue by giving adults the tools and the confidence to navigate media technology. Our older citizens need to practice their digital research skills and become comfortable with how technology can help them examine information.

    Adults will learn:

    • To define fake news, the forms it can take, the motivation for it, the history of it and why it is so prevalent now in our society.
    • To identify types of media and develop a vocabulary to discuss media terms.
    • To identify reliable sources for news and sources within the stories.
    • To analyze and think critically about the messages within the media and their purpose.
    • The hallmarks of real news and fake news.
    • How to search more efficiently online and have a basic understanding of search engine algorithms.
    • How to fact check like a news researcher.
    • How to identify media bias within news sites and in stories.
    • How to reverse search for memes and images that may have been altered or misrepresented.

    The course will help adults and seniors feel more comfortable with their digital skills and online tools available to discern fact from fiction.