18 July 2024
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Computer Game Enhancing Fake News Detection Skills

In today’s digital age, where misinformation and fake news spread rapidly across social media platforms, the ability to discern reliable information from misleading content has become a crucial skill. Recent research conducted by Uppsala University and other institutions has shed light on an innovative approach to improving this skill among students — through a computer game. This study revealed that a computer game called Bad News helped upper secondary school students in Sweden become more adept at distinguishing between trustworthy and deceptive news.

The game, designed for research and educational purposes, places participants in the role of a spreader of misleading news. The researchers conducted the study with 516 Swedish students across various school programs, marking the first time the game was scientifically tested in a traditional classroom setting. Surprisingly, the study found that whether students played the game individually, in pairs, or in groups with a shared scorecard, all methods led to positive outcomes in enhancing the students’ ability to identify manipulative techniques in social media posts and differentiate between reliable and misleading news.

Positive Attitudes Towards Trustworthy News Sources

One interesting finding from the study was that students who already held positive attitudes towards trustworthy news sources showed greater proficiency in detecting disinformation. Playing the game not only improved their ability to identify manipulative techniques but also significantly enhanced their attitude towards credible news sources. Moreover, many students were able to provide more sophisticated explanations on how they could identify manipulative techniques after playing the game.

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The researchers noted that the inclusion of competitive elements in the game heightened students’ interest and contributed to its overall effectiveness. This insight suggests that incorporating competitive elements in educational games can foster a more engaging learning environment and enhance the benefits of such interventions. The study’s results offer valuable insights for educators on leveraging serious games to promote media and information literacy among students.

Implications for Gamification in Education

The study’s findings challenge the common belief that gamification, particularly through competitive elements, always leads to better learning outcomes. While the competitive aspects of the game made it more enjoyable for the students, it did not necessarily translate into superior learning. This highlights the importance of considering the educational objectives when incorporating gamification in the classroom.

According to Thomas Nygren, Professor of Education at Uppsala University, the study underscores the need for a balanced approach to gamification in education. While competitive elements can enhance students’ interest and engagement, educators should ensure that the primary focus remains on achieving the learning goals effectively. By understanding how serious games like Bad News can be effectively integrated into formal instruction, teachers can harness the potential of gamification to cultivate critical thinking skills and media literacy among students.

Enhancing Media Literacy Through Gaming

The study’s insights offer a promising avenue for leveraging technology and gamification to enhance media literacy skills among students. As the volume of misinformation and fake news continues to proliferate online, equipping young individuals with the ability to discern reliable information is paramount. By incorporating educational games like Bad News into the curriculum, educators can provide students with a practical and engaging tool to develop their critical thinking and information evaluation skills.

The study conducted by Uppsala University and its collaborators highlights the positive impact of using a computer game to improve students’ ability to detect fake news. By fostering a better understanding of manipulative techniques and promoting a positive attitude towards trustworthy news sources, the game serves as a valuable educational tool for enhancing media literacy. The findings underscore the potential of gamification in education to empower students with the skills needed to navigate the complex landscape of online information effectively.

Links to additional Resources:

1. Newsela 2. FactCheck.org 3. Snopes

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Computer game, Fake news, Media literacy

Video game
A video game or computer game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device (such as a joystick, controller, keyboard, or motion sensing device) to generate visual feedback from a display device, most commonly shown in a video format on a television set, computer...
Read more: Video game

Fake news
Fake news or information disorder is false or misleading information (misinformation, including disinformation, propaganda, and hoaxes) presented as news. Fake news often has the aim of damaging the reputation of a person or entity, or making money through advertising revenue. Although false news has always been spread throughout history, the...
Read more: Fake news

Media literacy
Media literacy is an expanded conceptualization of literacy that includes the ability to access and analyze media messages as well as create, reflect and take action, using the power of information and communication to make a difference in the world. Media literacy is not restricted to one medium and is...
Read more: Media literacy

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