GRAND RAPIDS — All week we have been focusing on news literacy, the ways in which our viewers understand what we do as journalists, as well as helping you separate fact from fiction.
Experts in the social media realm are seeing a trend in misinformation in West Michigan and beyond. One app in particular is gaining popularity while sometimes spreading thoughts and opinions packaged as the truth.
You don't have to look far past Tik Tok dances and dares to know the app has an impact. But, just because it's a Tik Tok trend, doesn't mean it's true.
"So that's the situation we find ourselves in, it's a challenge to find what is true and good and right, when there are a million versions of truth that you are trying to filter through," said Chris McKenna, CEO of Protect Young Eyes, an organization focused on internet safety.
Anyone young or old can get on the app and create their own content.
"It is evolved into, you know, sort of a mini YouTube video sort of experience where there are multiple minute videos now that are being used in that sort of 2 to 3 minutes, here's my stance, my opinion as an influencer. Listen to me world, and you can convey a lot of information in that amount of time," said McKenna.
Some content creators aren't just dancing or cracking jokes, they are sharing thoughts, opinions, or maybe their own expertise.
The more likes, comments, and shares makes it harder to understand what is true and what is not.
"Talk to your kids about fake news, talk to them regularly about, you know, the sources and what they shouldn't shouldn't be paying attention to," said McKenna.
McKenna provides some tips: Consider the source fo the video, or article, look at the author or content creator, check the date, read the article, not just the headline.
It feels like everything on my feed is targeted at me, and McKenna said it is, and it probably is on your teen's p,hone too. He reminds teenagers and parents alike: the information we want to believe, might not necessarily be true.
"I believe that adults are subject to many of the same behavioral and belief vulnerabilities that teens are, it's just that for us, it's Twitter and Facebook. So I think it's important to call out because, you know, this isn't an us versus them or a value issue. This is an us issue. We need to, I think, hold our own sort of dopamine reward system in check, by listening to and reading opposing voices so that we can find some balance in what we're reading," said McKenna.
McKenna also suggests parents download some of these apps themselves and checkout the kind of information their teens are seeing with a more critical eye.