Australia’s first national children’s news and media report has been launched in Sydney.

News and Australian Children: How Young People Access, Perceive and are Affected by the News was released by Western Sydney University, Queensland University of Technology and Crinkling News.

The report details how 8 -16yo’s in Australia consume and interact with news and media. It underscores the need for a national direction in addressing media-literacy skills in young people.

Kids and teens are increasingly reliant on internet-sourced information and digital access to news. The difference between genuine and fake, or unreliable, news is increasingly difficult for them to discern.

The report’s lead authors are Dr Tanya Notley, senior researcher with the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University and associate professor Michael Dezuanni, associate director of the Digital Media Research Centre at QUT in Brisbane.

“Our survey results show us that young Australians are consuming a lot of news. One third of children and two thirds of teens often or sometimes get news from social media sites,” Dr Notley said.

“However, many are not critiquing this news they get online or they don’t know how to. Often they are not considering the source of the news story and they are not making any efforts to verify the story.”

A/Prof Dezuanni said: “We need to consider what impact this does and might have on young people’s capacity to participate in society as well-informed citizens.”

The survey of 1,000 Australians aged 8-16 found:

  • 43% of kids and 23% of teens don’t know if they can tell a fake news story from a real one
  • 54% of young people hardly ever, or never, check whether news stories found on the internet are true
  • Just one in five had school lessons in the past year to help them work out if news stories were true and could be trusted (20%).
  • 69% say news makes them feel smart or knowledgeable
  • 50% of 8 to 12-year-olds put family in their top three sources for news, 48% put television and 32% put a teacher or other adult
  • 46% of 13 to -16-year-olds put television in their top three sources for news, 42% put family, and 41% put social media

“This is vitally important work – the first of its kind in Australia – and I applaud the efforts of my colleagues at WSU and QUT,” said Peter Fray, professor of journalism practice at the University of Technology Sydney and a former editor in chief of the Sydney Morning Herald and deputy editor of The Australian.

“Our kids are growing up in a very different media landscape. We can see that an alarming low number of young people are checking on the validity of stories online and that they don’t know how to differentiate between fake and real news.”

“What this report tells us is that we need to start ensuring kids are equipped with the skills needed to identify reliable news sources, and determine what’s fake news and what’s real,” Prof Fray, who is a Crinkling News advisory board member, said.

Saffron Howden, editor of Crinkling News, said the report underpins the need for a national focus on media literacy for children.

“This report represents an opportunity to improve young people’s understanding of how media works, to develop their critical thinking skills, and to teach them how to filter information to identify what’s accurate,” Ms Howden.

“It also shows that kids and teens feel under-represented in the media, with little news out there relevant to them. We’re behind the rest of the world in addressing this. We need to catch up to help the next generation become informed and engaged citizens.”

The report’s release coincides with Universal Children’s Day and was launched during MediaMe, the first national news and media literacy conference for kids and teens, hosted by Crinkling News.

Children aged 10-15 at the conference developed a national media literacy action plan, recommending key steps needed to help young people develop media skills.

The conference features a public debate involving six kids on the topic “The news is not for kids”, streamed live on Facebook from 10am AEDT on Monday, November 20.




Media contacts:

MediaMe / Crinkling News Andrea Rowe M 0409 965 552  E

QUT Debra Nowland T 07 3138 1150 E

Western Sydney University Emma Sandham M 0404 016 236 E

About Crinkling News

Crinkling News is the only national newspaper for young Australians. The printed newspaper is published weekly and sent to subscribers at school and at home around the country.

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