Members of so-called Generation Z are less – not more – likely to fall for the spread of misinformation and fake news, according to recent studies and polls published by news outlet Axios.
A recent study published in Science Advances found that Americans older than 65 – also known as baby boomers – are more likely to share fake news links on Facebook than younger Americans born after 1996 (Generation Z).
Survey data from 2016 showed that boomers shared nearly seven times as many fake news articles on Facebook than younger Americans between the ages of 18 and 29.
“Our most robust and consistent finding is that older Americans were more likely to share articles from fake news domains,” stated the study. “This relationship holds even when we condition on other factors, such as education, party affiliation, ideological self-placement, and overall posting activity.”
Among Gen Z college students, 83% receive most of their news from online news sites and social media, Axios reported from a College Reaction poll of 868 students.
Social media and online content play a huge role as Gen Z’s source of information. According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey focused on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, “95% of 13- to 17-year-olds have access to a smartphone, and a similar share (97%) use at least one of seven major online platforms.”
But only 7% of Gen Z college students found social media to be the most trustworthy news source. Instead, more than 50% of Gen Z students said they believe online newspapers and news sites to be the most trustworthy, Axios reported.
The gap between the sharing of false information among age groups could be because of Gen Z and younger Americans’ better understanding of social media and the distribution of online content, Axios stated.
Gen Z’s online experience with social media could be what makes them more likely to spot the difference between credible sources and fake news.
Alexandra Macia contributed to this report.