Parenting Teens and Technology (Part 8)

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Looking for Truth

Learn how to find the truth and understand why it matters. Encourage a healthy doubt and interest in learning what really happened.

Teens will see and hear an outpouring of information that may or may not be true, online and in person.  Urban myths, gossip, fake identities, distorted points of view, and misleading advertising swirl through the process of getting accurate information to make good decisions.

Parents can help teens learn how to evaluate what they read and see, just as they learn to be skeptical about what they hear from friends, in music, see on television, in movies and from strangers.

“You have to vet information, test it the same way as when you buy an automobile or a TV.  You read the Consumer Reports to have an idea of what it’s worth and its lasting value. You have to the same thing with information you get from the Internet.” Tom Brokaw, NBC News Anchor

Truth Detection

Develop a habit of looking for more than one source for information on a subject. Learn how to evaluate the source. Who is sponsoring the website?  Who sponsored the research?  Check the background of supporters, board members, donors, advertisers. Who is interested in this subject and why?

Don’t forward emails without considering the source, truthfulness, motive and consequences. These websites specialize in checking the facts behind stories that travel on the Internet:

  • www.Factcheck.org – a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization developed at the University of Pennsylvania to provide citizens accurate information about US politics.
  • www.snopes.com/info/faq.asp – a nonpartisan, private website that provides True or False information with sources about urban legends, particularly those that circle on the Internet.

Conversation Starters:

Show me what you do to find out if something is true or false.

How do you decide if something is believable?

Written and edited by Elizabeth Schar for Adolescent Counseling Services

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