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The Internet Has Been Interpreted #FactCheck
The Internet Has Been Interpreted #FactCheck
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The Internet Has Been Interpreted #FactCheck

This video includes tips for helping youth fact check information they find online, in particular, determining what is a reliable source for health information, and what isn’t. The video introduces key ideas to determine if a source is trustworthy, for example, checking what date the material was published and whether the author is considered an expert.  Viewers learn that online forums are not trusted sources of information.

Youth

We’re online all the time. And sometimes, we see information online and we’re not sure if it’s actually true and we want to check it out. Or, we may feel frustrated by the information we’re getting (or not getting) at school or in our community about our bodies and relationships, and we want to research the facts for ourselves. This helps keep us safe from incorrect information about health. 

 

When researching information online, it’s important to know which sites you can trust and which sites you can’t. Information on social media is often wrong, or stretching the truth, so it’s not usually a place to get health information.  Instead, look for websites that were written recently. Generally, the newer the information is, the more likely it is to be accurate. 

 

Then, look to see who wrote the information. It’s important that the information is written by an expert, for example, a doctor or nurse, or someone who has a lot of experience or education in the topic you’re researching. Or, maybe the author isn’t an expert themselves, but they talked to lots of experts and read lots of published research while they were writing.  

 

It’s important to know that internet forums are not places to find trusted information about health. Anyone can post on an internet forum, the information doesn’t have to be truthful or written by an expert. For example, just because someone has been to a clinic once doesn’t mean they’re an expert on the topic. 

 

If you ever have questions about what you’re reading, don’t be afraid to check in with an adult you trust!  Adults, like a parent/caregiver, librarian, school counselor, or adult family friend, can help you determine if a website source is accurate, and answer other questions about health that you may have. 

FAQs

Why would someone choose abortion over adoption?

Adoption is an alternative to abortion if someone does not want to parent. However, like abortion, adoption can be a complicated process, especially for someone who is under 18. If a person does not want to go through the pregnancy process, or has a health challenge where pregnancy or giving birth could put them in danger, they might find abortion to be a safer option than adoption. Some people might choose an abortion rather than add more children to the number who already need homes. Finally, adoption is not an automatic process and requires particular knowledge and resources that may be difficult for a young person to access. In some cases, adoption may be a better choice for someone over abortion, or even parenting. In any case however, it is important to respect a person’s choice, whatever it is they decide.

There’s a clinic in my neighborhood that advertises being able to help pregnant people with their pregnancies. Can those places help me get an abortion?

Not every clinic can help with accessing an abortion. Some places, called “crisis pregnancy centers,” actually exist to try and prevent people from having an abortion. Some of these places do provide free health services and use names like “Women’s Choice” or “Real Women’s Health” to mimic traditional clinics.  However, even with those services included, crisis pregnancy centers will also use false information to trick and/or intimidate people into carrying pregnancies. If a person is looking for a place that provides abortions, make sure to ask specifically if they provide that service, so as not to get trapped at a fake clinic.

Can I get an abortion if I’m under 18?

Not every clinic can help with accessing an abortion. Some places, called “crisis pregnancy centers,” actually exist to try and prevent people from having an abortion. Some of these places do provide free health services and use names like “Women’s Choice” or “Real Women’s Health” to mimic traditional clinics.  However, even with those services included, crisis pregnancy centers will also use false information to trick and/or intimidate people into carrying pregnancies. If a person is looking for a place that provides abortions, make sure to ask specifically if they provide that service, so as not to get trapped at a fake clinic.

Can abortion cause long-term negative effects?

When done by a reputable medical professional, abortion is a minimally-invasive procedure that has no long-term negative physical effect on the body, even if the person has had more than one procedure. Research has also shown that most people who have had an abortion do not report feeling any regrets about their decision. Other research suggests that the decision to have an abortion can be emotionally difficult for some people. This is often related not necessarily to the abortion itself, but to the difficulty of all the factors that may lead a person to choose an abortion in the first place, as well as the stigma one can experience from having an unintended pregnancy. There is no way to know how abortion might affect a person emotionally, which is why it is a good idea to talk with a trusted adult before making a decision.

Parents

The internet has made life easier in a lot of ways for young people – they can connect with friends online or check out the latest trending videos, and they can use the internet as a tool for schoolwork and research. 

 

Since sexual health topics can be embarrasing for youth to talk about, they often go online to look for answers to their questions. However, not all internet websites and resources are equal, and much of the information you can find online about health isn’t accurate.  It’s important to guide young people through understanding which information is trustworthy, and which information isn’t. 

 

Help young people learn to check for important details, such as when the information was published, and whether the person who wrote the content is an expert. Help them understand what an expert is, for example, a person who has degrees in a specific subject, has worked in a field for a long time, or is associated with a university, or government agency such as the CDC or WHO. Talk about trusted sources and how you can tell if a citation references reliable information. 

 

Sit down together with your child and show them some reliable websites with information about their health, or even consider bookmarking them on your computer! This way, they can navigate to these websites in the future. Two great places to start are www.kidshealth.org and www.sexetc.org

 

It may also be helpful to show your child what kinds of websites are not trustworthy. For example, internet forums, where anyone can post are not considered places to get health information. 

 

Conversation Starters

The most important thing you can do is let them know that you’re able to answer their questions about health, even if they want to double check something they read online, or ask you about whether a site is credible. 

 

There are lots of opportunities to bring this up with kids, for example, the first time they get access to their own phone or tablet with internet access or the first time they have to do a research project online for school. 

 

Here are a few ways to bring up the importance of what is and is not trustworthy online:

Which social media site do you think contains the most accurate information? What about which one contains the least accurate information?

Guide your kids to see that most social media sites don’t focus on sharing accurate information, instead they focus on getting clicks and views, or building an online community. Sometimes, social media accounts from large news networks can be trusted to share real-time news information, but you should still do further research. 

How do you know if information online is something you can trust? What are some things you look for?

Remind young people to look for what type of site the information was posted on, how recent the information was published or updated, and whether the information was written by a credible source.

Look up information together the next time they ask a question about bodies or their health.

While you look through websites together, talk about what websites come up on the internet search that are and are not credible, and why.

Educators

Using the internet to support academic work (and for fun) is around to stay. Whether it’s a take-home assignment, a resource you’re using during class, or research you’re doing independently to create lesson plans, it’s important to share with students how you determine if a source is credible.

In addition to teaching lessons focused on media literacy, it will also be helpful to do the following as you teach:
When giving homework, provide websites they can visit to get the information they may need to complete their assignment.
When showcasing an online resource during class, share with students the specific ways you know a resource is credible, such as the it’s publication date, the citations, or the organization that is sharing the information.
When giving an assignment, give students a list of websites that would not be accepted, for example, a social media site or Wikipedia. This helps students learn which sites are typically not credible sources for health information.

National Sex Education Standards

PD.8.AI.1 - Medical Accuracy and Medically Accurate Sources of Information

Define medical accuracy and analyze medically accurate sources of information about puberty, adolescent development, and sexual health

View all PD.8.AI.1 Videos

SH.10.AI.1 - Determine Whether a Resource or Service is Medically Accurate or Credible

Demonstrate the ability to determine whether a resource or service is medically accurate or credible

View all SH.10.AI.1 Videos

SH.10.AI.2 - Medically Accurate Sources of Information about and Local Services that Provide Contraceptive Methods

Identify medically accurate sources of information about and local services that provide contraceptive methods (including emergency contraception and condoms) and pregnancy options (including parenting, abortion, adoption, and prenatal care)

View all SH.10.AI.2 Videos

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions:

What are three things you can use to tell if a website is credible?
What sources are typically credible online? What are some websites you know are not often reliable?
What can you do if you’re not sure if a website is reliable?
Is there ever a time that a social media site might be a good information source? What might it be?

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