Are kids being taught what to trust in the Internet?

Facebook was in the news recently after the social network site announced it would be testing out a label or tag to highlight what is…
Are kids being taught what to trust in the Internet?

Are we failing our kids when it comes to teaching them about the internet? (Shutterstock)

Facebook was in the news recently after the social network site announced it would be testing out a label or tag to highlight what is a hoax news site over a legitimate news site.

In essence, this move is for those folks who are unable to discern the difference between legitimate sites such as VOXXI and CNN from fake news organizations such as The Onion and Clickhole.

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A Facebook spokesperson said, “We received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others.”

This seems like it belongs in the same category as a “Coffee may be hot” or “Don’t stick your hand in a toaster” warnings.

It’s these type of reactions or effects that led some to believe critical thinking, which is defined as “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment,” appears to be at an all-time low.

The good news is the Common Core Standards are aimed at increasing critical thinking and problem solving skills, but still the fact remains, today in education critics point to students spending too much time memorizing and too little time conceptualizing and thinking.

On a larger scale, what kind of effect is this perceived lack of critical thinking skills having among school age children.

“The Internet is designed to seduce kids, whether we like it or not,” Child and Adolescent Psychologist Neil Bernstein told VOXXI. “If the grownups can’t tell the difference between what’s a scam and what’s not, I don’t know how we can expect the kids to tell.”

The most horrific tale of children misguided as a result of nefarious intent on the Internet came this past spring when two 12-year-old girls from Wisconsin attacked and stabbed a classmate, leaving her dead, in hopes of impressing the fake Internet character Slender Man. The victim barely survived.

“That’s everybody’s worst nightmare, but we’re really talking about raising healthy children with a sense of values and judgment,” said Bernstein, who authored the book “How To Keep Your Teenager Out Of Trouble, And What To Do If You Can’t.”

He added, “Are kids susceptible to stuff on the Internet? Absolutely, yes. There’s all kind of things going on out there and any kid who wants to find trouble can find it. It’s just a mouse click away – sex, porn, violence. It’s all out there so what we want to do is teach our kids judgment and how to discern what’s risky from what’s not risky, what’s true from what’s not true.”

Bernstein goes on to say the notion of critical thinking is not a psychological expression. Instead, he interprets critical thinking as meaning good judgment. Furthermore, he points out that there’s a difference between cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence and social intelligence.

“We’re talking about social intelligence here, and to a lesser extent emotional intelligence, because you can have a smart kid with poor judgment,” Bernstein said. “How can kids tell what’s real from what’s not? The answer is they can’t and we can’t.

“The Internet is getting more and more deceptive. So we have to teach children to think before they act because impulsiveness is what gets so many kids in trouble. That is a necessary skill that permeates the different things we’re talking about.”

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