Overcoming the age barrier: Improving older adults' detection of political disinformation with media literacy
Keywords: 
Fake news
Information disorders
Media literacy
News bias
Older adults
Political disinformation
Spain
WhatsApp
Issue Date: 
2023
Publisher: 
Cogitatio
ISSN: 
2183–2439
Note: 
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY).
Citation: 
Sádaba-Chalezquer, C. (Charo); Salaverría-Aliaga, R. (Ramón); Bringué, X. (Xavier). "Overcoming the age barrier: Improving older adults' detection of political disinformation with media literacy". Media and Communication. 11 (4), 2023, 113 - 123
Abstract
This experimental study analyzes the effect of media literacy on the ability of Spanish seniors over 50 years of age to identify fake news. The experiment measures the improvement achieved by older adults in the detection of political disinformation thanks to a digital competence course offered through WhatsApp. The study comprises a total sample of 1,029 individu‐ als, subdivided into a control group (n = 531) and an experimental group (n = 498), from which a qualified experimental subsample (n = 87) was extracted. Results reveal that participants’ political beliefs, ranging from left to right positions, influence their ability to detect misinformation. A progressive political position is associated with higher accuracy in iden‐ tifying right‐biased news headlines and lower accuracy for left‐biased headlines. A conservative position is associated with higher accuracy when the news headline has a progressive bias, but lower accuracy when the headline is right‐wing. Users are more critical when the headline has a bias against theirs, while they are more likely to believe news that confirms their own beliefs. The study adds evidence on the relevance of cognitive biases in disinformation and supports the convenience of designing specific media literacy actions aimed at older adults.

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