When I was in elementary school and had to do a report for school, I would head to my library and pull out the encyclopedia, The encyclopedia was published by a reputable company, the articles were written by experts in the field, and the fact were checked for accuracy. Today, children have information all around them. Besides books and magazines, information can be found on-line, in databases, on websites, on social networks, and even on phones. The instant information available may not be accurate or written by an expert on the subject. The extra challenge for our children today is to evaluate the information out there and be able to judge it for its accuracy, relativity, and purpose.
As a parent you can help your child become information literate by sharing your love for learning with the them. Show your children how you evaluate information. Teach them to think about the following questions. Who or what is the authority? How current is the information? How might different people perceive this message? What is omitted? (Imel, Kerka and Wagner, 2000; Raffrety, 1999).
When using the Internet with your children, remind them that anyone can put information on the Internet. Teach them to look for the author's qualifications, and to find out what the author's are. Ask your children to consider whether the information on the website is being used to sell a product. (Abdullah, 1998; Branch, Kim, and Koenecke, 1999). What is the author's purpose? Is it to entertain, persuade, or inform? Is the information provided bias? Talk about what other options there might be on the topic.
Challenge your children to look for hidden advertising on television shows, video games, movies, and other forms of media. Help children recognize how companies try to influence what we buy. As Tim and Moby from BrainPop say, "The more you know, the more you know."