The BBC has launched brand new media literacy initiative aimed at teaching kids and teenagers how to spot fake news by way of an online game in which players pretend they are a journalist running down their first big story.
The game, called BBC iReporter, is a journalism-themed RPG developed by the UK animation studio Aardman. Players are forced to make a handful of choices about source credibility, fact-checking, and working on the clock to make a deadline. The only way to win is to develop a credible story.
The game is just one facet of the BBC’s effort to teach kids how to spot fake news. In a statement, the British institution noted that it was crucial for them to be able to “give young people the skills and awareness they need to be confident about identifying the real news stories.”
Starting in March, the BBC will send journalists and editors to more than 1,000 schools around the UK to offer journalism mentoring to students, both in person and online. The initiative was inspired by a study run by the BBC and University of Salford, which found that, while many kids say that they’re able to identify fake news when put to the test, many struggle to weed out falsehoods when put to the test.
According to the findings, only about 25 percent of kids ages 14 and 15 would bother checking to see if the company reporting a story they’ve read was credible. Only two in five would check the comments for an abundance of bots and the like, and only about half would try and see if the story was reported anywhere else. While most kids in this crucial age bracket don’t scrutinize their news sources enough, almost all of them said that they’d been exposed to fake news before.