Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.
Just consider two recent events in the news: Young girls, unable to recognize an online hoax called #CutForBieber, upload bloody photos of self-inflicted wounds to Twitter to show their concern for Justin Bieber’s alleged marijuana use.
Meanwhile, 21-year old Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o falls for and carries on a serious relationship with an online girlfriend who doesn’t actually exist. Just last week, while interviewing Te’o about this well-publicized affair, Katie Couric asks him if he’s “technologically challenged.”
Couric asks an important question. If Te’o, Bieber’s fans, or any of us for that matter, can’t evaluate online information well enough to recognize online hoaxes like these when we see them, then yes, we’re technologically challenged.
Perhaps we could all use a lesson in CRAP detection.
At Journey School in Aliso Viejo, CA, we turn to the second chapter of the book, NetSmart: How to Thrive Online (2012) by Stanford University Professor, Howard Rheingold for our “Cyber Civics” classes on Information Literacy.
I like Rheingold’s approach to evaluating online information because there’s not a 13-year old alive whose ears don’t perk up when you start talking about CRAP.
It captures their attention just long enough to allow you to suggest they ask the following questions when evaluating online information:
-How recent is this information?
-How recently has the website been updated?
-What kind of information is included in the resource?
-Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?
-Who is the creator or author? What are their credentials?
-Who is the publisher or sponsor? Are they reputable?
Purpose/Point of View
- Is this fact or opinion? Is it biased?
- Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?
Sometimes a scatological acronym is just the thing kids need to help them remember how to be critical thinkers online… and to avoid unnecessary pain and fake girlfriends.
Diana Graber, who has an M.A. in Media Psychology and Social Change, is Co-Founder of CyberWise, a Digital Hub that helps busy adults understand and use digital tools. Diana also teaches CyberCivics at Journey School in Aliso Viejo, CA, and is Adjunct Faculty of the new Media Psychology program at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology.