Better informed to be an informed citizen

As parents, how can you help your child learn more? The three key skills to develop are: verify the source, verify the claim and trace information to the source. 

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ATTENTION! The English translation is automated - Errors (sometimes hilarious!) can creep in! ;)

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One of the pillars of democracy is access to quality information, which allows you to exercise your role as a citizen in a fair and enlightened manner. With the development of online media and social networks, being a citizen in 2021 necessarily means exercising this role while taking digital technology into account, whether or not you are a user.

Already, in 2018, 90% for young people aged 18 to 34 inquired almost exclusively online. Imagine your children and adolescents! For them, traditional media hardly exist. Knowing this, it is important to be concerned about the information they are going to look for online.

Why? Because the phenomenon of spreading fake news has grown steadily in recent years, what “Undermines the trust we place in political institutions, the media and scientists, and destabilizes our democracies”. And that we are all one click away from sharing false information.

Civix organization, who does citizenship education across Canada, is adamant: “The dissemination of fake news is arguably one of the most pressing problems in democracies today. The ability to distinguish between true and false has become an essential skill for any citizen in this digital age. "

As parents, how can you help your child learn more?

The three key skills to develop are: (1) verify the source, (2) verify the statement and (3) trace information to the source. 

The approach we offer here is inspired by the one developed by the website team

1- Check the source

  • Ask yourself about the author of the publication (Who is he ?, Is this a recognized media ?, etc.)
  • When there is an image, do a reverse search by image (Google, Tineye)

2- Check the statement

  • Compare the information with other reports on the same subject: angle of treatment, choice of speakers, way in which the information is presented.
  • Beware of cognitive biases (or when your brain selects or transforms information to prove you are right!)
    • Examples:
      • Confirmation bias: “This photo validates what I already believed… it must be true. "
      • Illusory truth effect: “I have seen this publication so often (moreover shared by serious media), it must clearly be true! "

3- Trace the information to the source

  • Often, the information we read has been shared by someone we know. Go beyond this source and try to trace the origin of a new one. You will sometimes realize that the information may have been transformed over the course of the shares.

I share or not?

The desire to share / react / comment / retort / confront / ridicule sometimes burns the fingers. How about taking 2 seconds to think about the impacts of your click? This is also part of the learning to do!

In a context of an overabundance of information, it is essential to support your young people so that they learn to decode the news they read or see online. Talk to them about current affairs. Question them in order to validate their sources and their perception of a fact or a reality. While making them aware of the importance of better informing themselves, you will take quality time with them. This could spark great family discussions and you will help make them knowledgeable citizens!

Resources to find the right information
- Series " How do we make information »By SCOOP !, in collaboration with Agence Science-Presse
Rumor Detector, Science-Press Agency
Decodex, The world
Doubt or Trust?,
Decryptors, Radio-Canada
How to fight disinformation, Radio-Canada
Check ... before sharing, MediaSmarts
COVID-19: Screening for disinfo, Professional Federation of Quebec Journalists (FPJQ) in partnership withScience-Press Agency (ASP).

- Media education, media
- Citizenship in the digital age,
- Petit, B. (2018, November 29), Building citizenship in the digital age, The Edcan network.
- Civix-Québec, (2020, October 5). Civix explains: Why is journalism important?, Youtube
- Democracy education zone, The democratic minute, Elections Quebec

This text was first published in the magazine Parents Action March 2021 of the Federation of Parents' Committees of Quebec.

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About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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