Report – Fake News and False Friendships

Posted on: Thursday 06 July 2017 4:58pm by Bethan Cook

“Fake news is a symptom, rather than the cause, of a deeper social problem”.

We live in a world where false news is constantly at the forefront of the media. Fake news stories are being shared around the world and are becoming increasingly plausible. How can children learn to understand what’s real and reliable? Are these sources purposely misleading children, or just carrying out sloppy journalistic practices?


  • Fake news has always been a problem
  • Children need to be educated about the dangers of fake news
  • Children predominantly get their news from social media outlets, which is worrying considering there is a rise of fake news on such platforms
  • Teaching digital citizenship and critical media literacy is of utmost importance


Leading the panel’s discussion, Journalist Phil Harding invited the speakers to provide examples of as to when they have encountered fake news, how technology has influenced the spreading of such news, how it affects different age groups, and how we should respond to combat the issue.

Dr. Cynthia Carter notes that there is nothing new about fake news, nor the worries about its potential impact on children; particularly in her field of research (children, news and citizenship). She feels that educating children about fake news and enhancing children’s media literacy is the key to combatting this issue. “We need to stop seeing children from a top-down perspective,” Cynthia adds.

On the other hand, Lewis James believes that fake news is a prominent issue nowadays due to the rise of social media platforms. He suggested that adults have also become blind-sighted by when it comes to sharing fake news. As a result, Newsround has created the “Think before you click to stop the spread of fake news” VT, in order to encourage children to investigate online media outlets before sharing supposed news.

Jan-Willem Bult reminds us that everyone has been influenced by fake news, and that it hasn’t only become an issue since Trump was elected. “Fake news is not disconnected from fact-checking, safety and security,” Jan adds. He talks of the Chinese Whispers effect, and the way in which packaged and repackaged news produces fake news.

Anna Bassi makes an interesting point in that all kinds of fake news are equally as dangerous. She recalls a particular issue of the magazine from earlier this year, where children were informed of the different kinds of fake news, how to identify it, why it’s a problem, and how to prevent spreading it. Anna believes if children continue to challenge, question, dig deeper and be critical, they will become less susceptible to fake news.

Louis Reynolds talks of the “clear increase in the mainstreaming of fake news,” in addition to children’s increased awareness of and interest in conspiracy theories. He believes both children and adults have a tendency to criticise news they don’t agree with, and a story’s veracity is often judged by webpage aesthetics.

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Bethan Cook

About the author

Bethan Cook

Journalist and Blogger

Bethan is a final-year undergraduate working towards a BA (Hons) Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. She has a keen interest in children’s media, and used it as a means of inspiration for her dissertation, entitled ‘The Gender-Specific Influence of Violent Cartoons on Children’. She was fortunate enough… Read more