A 2020 Common Sense research report, international journal and the News, found that a whopping 77% of teens get their news primarily through social media. At the same time that young people are changing their media consumption habits, the United States is going through a period that is marked by an increased distrust in traditional news outlets.
According to the Survey Center on American Life, approximately two-thirds of Americans hold the belief that “you can learn more about what is going on in the world by ignoring mainstream news and doing your own research.” This tendency to “do our own research” combined with our reliance on social media to meet our information needs make us susceptible to one of the most influential forces on the internet: conspiracy theories.
Use these lesson activities to help your students think critically about conspiracy theories, why they’re often so appealing, and how social media impacts their spread.
Understand why conspiracy theories are so appealing and who is benefiting from them.
Reflect on the potential impacts of stopping the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories.
Research the purported facts that prop up conspiracy theories and help prevent their viral spread online.
This lesson deep dive has three independent parts. You can string them together, or pull them apart to complement other parts of your curriculum.