Today’s students are considered true digital natives. They can easily navigate social media while simultaneously texting a friend and streaming music. But with the vast amount of information at their fingertips, are students as adept at distinguishing credible and untrustworthy information?

The answer is no, according to a 2016 study by Stanford’s History Education Group (SHEG). Researchers assumed middle and high schoolers fluent in social media were equally savvy about the reliability of information found there, but their results showed the opposite. Findings revealed that students’ ability to think critically about information online was “bleak” and highlighted a need for news and media literacy in education.

Why Teach News and Media Literacy?

Children spend about six hours each day consuming media, according to a 2015 report by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focused on helping children, educators and families navigate media and technology. Teaching news and media literacy - which is only one aspect of digital citizenship - helps students think critically about the information they consume, become active consumers, identify credible sources and build awareness around biases in media consumption and creation. As a result, students can leverage the information they consume online to become smarter and better informed citizens.

Use the resources below to promote news and media literacy in classrooms or after school programs:

  • Media Literacy Toolkits (Common Sense Media): Receive lessons, videos, interactive games, activities and more for teaching news and media literacy. Each toolkit is designed by grade level and includes on topic, ready-to-use learning resources.
  • News Literacy Boot Camp for Kids (Time for Kids): Download worksheets that challenge students to think critically about the news they consume, analyze an author’s point of view and identify fake news.
  • Media Literacy Lesson Plans and Ideas (BrainPOP Educators): Watch as Tim and Moby demonstrate how to navigate advertisements, opinions and other hidden persuasions. Also, find a quiz, games and other activities to help students expand and apply what they’ve learned.
  • checkology™Virtual Classroom (News Literacy Project): Get access to a library of news literacy learning experiences with engaging interactive lessons hosted by real-world professionals. The premium version includes self-paced learning, digital badges, real-time virtual lessons and more.
  • Don’t Buy It Guide (PBS Kids): Use this resource to teach students how to evaluate and analyze the media messages they see. It includes games and activities to help them dissect pop culture and advertisements while building critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Media Literacy 101 (MediaSmarts): Use this collection of videos to introduce key concepts of media literacy to students and to serve as a foundation for examining mass media and popular culture. Each video is accompanied by a lesson plan that restates the video’s main points and provides practical application.


Media consumption is the norm for today’s students. With the growth of unsubstantiated news and information circulating social media and other online channels, it’s essential for students to be able to sift through the noise to find legitimate, trustworthy sources. For more insight, check out “Media Literacy: Five Ways Teachers Are Fighting Fake News.”