\nYou too can buy these exotic spaghetti bushes! If you had picked up the phone back in 1957, you would have been one of hundreds calling to inquire about where to buy the miracle bushes, which, according to the BBC documentary, yielded spaghetti that \u201calways grows to the same length thanks to years of hard work by generations of growers.\u201d You would also have been one of the thousands who were punked by the BBC spoof.\nIt\u2019s an April Fool\u2019s Day prank, of course, but on this day in 1957, the spoof, believed to be the first televised hoax on a national network, both confused and aggravated viewers who felt that the BBC had breached its code of standards.\nTelevision was fairly new in 1957, and people trusted it still, which makes for easy targets. Many could say the same thing about the internet today. Despite the Nigerian dictators regularly asking for money and the influx of spam in our in-boxes, we consider ourselves pretty savvy \u2013 and teens are particularly prone to an inflated sense of their \u201cdigital native\u201d know-how (insert eye roll at mom\u2019s inability to upload a YouTube video here). But we\u2019re not.\nAs silly as the holiday can be, April Fool\u2019s Day is the perfect time to remind kids and students of the importance of verifying sources, double-checking claims, and figuring out who is behind the website \u2013 and providing them with the proper tools to do so. Education technology expert Steve Hargadon notes that \u201ctime and experience\u201d are the two key factors that make us more skeptical \u2013- and also happen to increase with age. It is our job as parents and educators to make sure kids know how to recognize the signs of inauthentic information online because, as you know, they are mostly on their own to assess credibility.\nFindings from a 2007 study by Andrew J. Flanagin and Miriam J. Metzger found that teens ages 11-18 judge credibility primarily by website attributes, such as design features, depth of content, and navigability of the site. The study further found that the more experience with the internet, the greater the ability to self-verify the information presented. So, ideally, the more kids read online, the better they will be at detecting the veracity of a site or source. Results also showed that kids ranked news organizations\u2019 websites highest in terms of overall trustworthiness, and personal sites like blogs ranked lowest, which suggests that kids trust sites they have been told are credible. They\u2019re listening! That said, their first stop is still the internet to find information.\nFor example, according to a later study by Flanagin and Metzger, kids distrusted Wikipedia, which the researchers attributed to years of teachers telling students that the online encyclopedia was a dubious source. Kids said that Wikipedia was less credible than sites like Britannica, written by experts rather than Wikipedia\u2019s open authorship. However, when entries from both sites were presented without the brand names, many kids placed the most trust in the information from Wikipedia. \u201cThey found Wikipedia entries to be the most credible compared to the stripped-out Britannica entry,\u201d Metzger said. Ultimately it appears that kids are looking at content and not just the way it\u2019s packaged.\nMetzger and Flanagin\u2019s results also found that 73 percent of children had received some type of digital media literacy education and most are concerned about credibility. However, many are less rigorous when it comes to actually evaluating online information.\nAlthough it appears that parents and teachers are doing a good job of talking to their kids about valuing the integrity of what they view online, more can always be done \u2013 especially as kids are consuming large amounts of information via smart phones and other mobile devices, which takes them away from the computer in the living room where parents are on hand to help decipher information if needed.\nThe New York Times\u2019 Learning Network published a curriculum in February to help students identify authenticity. Times reporters Shannon Doyne and Holly Epstein Ojalvo suggest having students brainstorm methods for checking the veracity of a source. The curriculum also includes two articles followed by reading comprehension questions aimed to encourage students to think critically about the information presented and how it was collected.\nResearchers from King Saud University, Al-Khalifa S. Hend and Rasha M. Al-Eidan, also published a study last year investigating the credibility of news published on Twitter. They\u2019re developing a system to measure the veracity of the information presented by comparing news posted on Twitter to authenticated news stories published in print. This will come in handy for activists since dictators have begun using Twitter as a platform for dispersing pro-government propaganda.\nAdditional help is available from Stanford University\u2019s Persuasive Technology Lab, which launched the Web Credibility Project to investigate how digital media consumers assess the trustworthiness of online sources. The project published a list of ten guidelines for building and boosting the authority of a web site. This resource provides an alternative perspective to gauging credibility and is ideal for students who are interested in making their own blogs look more professional and reliable.\n \nAnd of course, Common Sense Media offers a rich (and free) curriculum tailored to different grades and levels, ranging from rating websites to searching strategies to how to recognize advertising on sites.