Starting at a young age, it’s important for kids to learn how to search for information to stay informed and learn about the world around them. In addition to looking up information in books, utilizing search engines can lead students to a wealth of media outlets and resources for conducting research. However, finding trustworthy websites can be tricky; even for adults.
Many kids know that when writing research reports, it’s important to look at more than one source to get the full scoop on a given topic. But how can kids know whether or not these sources are trustworthy?
This fall, Scholastic launched We the People, a free online tool focused on civics education and media literacy incorporating content from Scholastic Classroom Magazines including Scholastic News®, Junior Scholastic® and The New York Times UPFRONT®. The resource is available in separate editions for grades 4–6 and 7–10 to ensure that students and teachers can take advantage of age-appropriate content. An article titled “Know the Source” contained within the edition for grades 4–6 points to helpful guidelines that kids can use for finding credible sources when using search engines and conducting research online. Here are a few top tips:
- When using a search engine, the results that appear at the top of the list might not be the most helpful or reliable. For instance, Wikipedia can appear towards the top, but the popular online encyclopedia isn’t like other encyclopedias because many of its articles can be edited by anyone and they aren’t reviewed by experts.
- Beware of ads. Companies can pay for their ads to appear at the top of a results page.
- Look for site addresses that end in .org or .edu. A site that ends in .org is usually run by an organization such as a nonprofit and a site that ends in .edu is usually run by a college or a university.
- Sometimes you can trust sites that end in .com, particularly when the site is run by a respected organization such as the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.—a group of museums and research centers. But still, it is important to be careful. Some .com sites are run by businesses that want to sell you something.
- Site addresses that end in .gov are run by the U.S. government and are usually good sources to look to as well.
To learn more about finding trustworthy sources, visit We the People at: https://wethepeople.scholastic.com/