Fake news has been all over the news recently. Let’s call it what it really is: propaganda.
Why are we talking about this in a column about technology for families? Anyone online is inundated with information. Before the internet, there were certain filters in place when we got our information from newspapers, magazines, books and broadcasting.
It was expensive to print and distribute or to broadcast. The publishers and broadcasters had limits of how much content they could put out, so they were discriminating in their selection. And they had to reach a large audience to be economically viable, so they could not alienate a large portion of their audience by being unfair.
I do not mean to suggest propaganda techniques were not used, just that there were some filters in place. Today there are none. Anyone can publish to the net for only the cost of an internet connection. The only filter between publisher and audience is what the individual audience member provides for himself.
I learned about propaganda techniques in school, and I went looking through the Virginia Standards of Learning to find out our schools still teach about them -- albeit in the seventh grade.
That may be too late. Media consumption habits may already be well-formed by then, considering how much information even children are exposed to online.
As parents, we need to teach our children critical thinking at a young age. Have them learn to question what they read, see and hear. And also have them watch for propaganda techniques in their personal interactions.
When you see an example of name calling in an ad or speech, ask your child why the message needs to call someone a name. What are they hoping to gain?
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