The smartphone is the baby pacifier of the Information Age. And, just like the traditional pacifier’s unintended dental consequences, the smartphone pacifier has its own downside. When we give kids access to media before teaching them media literacy, they don’t know how to navigate the information landscape, and end up tripping over the pitfalls of the Internet, such as fake news.
As someone who volunteers with middle schoolers, I see this problem on a regular basis. Middle schoolers are on their phones constantly, but they don’t have the skills to distinguish between fact and fiction on their many newsfeeds.