In this day and age, people of all ages are often on social media. While most of the platforms can be engaging for the good, there are always bad actors out there passing along misinformation. That’s the type of content younger students need to be aware of, according to an Augusta University faculty expert.
Stacie Pettit, PhD, program director of the Master of Education in Instruction in the College of Education and Human Development, suggests there needs to be more media literacy and awareness of social media taught to students.
With so many videos and posts claiming to be informative, how is one supposed to discern what is factual and what is not? Pettit feels people need to be more aware of how to tell when a post is legit as opposed to inaccurate.
“Knowing what legitimate research is and what’s not, especially in this political climate, it can be tough to tell,” said Pettit. “More can be done in them understanding how deep it goes and what you search for; you’re going to get things that are skewing your mind to what you already want to believe. I feel like that component can be deeper.”
Pettit realizes younger students know how to use social media, but using it in a responsible way can be just as important. People may post videos claiming one thing, but without fact checking, it may be inaccurate and can be a dangerous tool to mold a younger person’s mind.
“If you already have your mind made up about something, you’re going to find things. It’s like the old phrase, ‘if you’re looking for a yellow cab, you’re going to find a yellow cab.’ This may be your context, your culture that you’re coming from, but put yourself in this place, how might they feel? Knowing there isn’t just one way to think about something — it’s not just a black and white answer to all these critical issues — is important,” Pettit added.
She knows it’s of the utmost importance for students to realize that every talking head they see in a video on social media isn’t always speaking the truth. Fact checking, finding another source to support a view and paying attention to the source in the first place can be key pieces of the puzzle students can use to find out the legitimacy of a post from the start.
For all the misinformation out there, there are still plenty of legitimate uses for social media platforms.
“There’s definitely educational and helpful things on YouTube. I encourage my kids a lot to go there because I’m trying to teach them to be more independent. She’s often like, ‘I don’t know how to do that’ but I tell her to find a video; this is what you’re going to have to do in college,” she said.