By Kathlene vonBrethorst

The Weiser High School E-Citizen team is promoting “Internet Reliability” and “What is Plagiarism” for the month of February.  Many students and parents today are reading information from social media, new stations, and other sources and are wondering if the messages that they are receiving are valid and reliable.  Whether it is simply information that you are receiving on a daily basis or if you are looking up material for a research paper, it is important to know if that information is true and correct. There are a few things that you can do to find out if the source you are listening to is reliable.  First, if it is a website, make sure that there is not a “.com.co” or any other unfamiliar endings to your websites.  This should make you question the reliability of a source instantly.  Also, ask yourself the following questions:

    Who is responsible for making the message?  Every piece of information found on the internet should have an author or someone who is presenting the information.
    Why was it made?  Whether this is a message or a video, think about why the message was made?  Who does it help?  Who might it hurt?
    Who is paying for it?  Nothing is free in this world and there are many outside influences in every direction that we turn.  Learning who paid for the message, video, etc. can give insight to motivation.
    How is the message trying to get my attention?  Most messages will appeal to logic, emotion, or something else that makes you want to read or listen to it.  Why is the message being presented in this way?
    Whose point of view is included?  Learning whose point of view is presented can help you understand and think about whose point of view might be missing.  This can help eliminate bias that can occur in newsworthy stories, videos, etc.  Check out this link to learn more: https://www.commonsense.org/education/videos/5-essential-media-literacy-questions-for-kids


Using the questions above and just having conversations can help greatly to figure out the reliability of a source.  Once you have found a reliable and truthful source, make sure that you give credit where credit is due.  Plagiarism is the the use of other people’s ideas or writing and passing it off as if it were your own.  Summarizing and rewording information is key to avoiding plagiarism.  Do not copy and paste other people’s words and use them as your own!  Learn how to quote reliable material to avoid plagiarism as well.  These tips will save you from committing plagiarism.  

If you have any questions or want to learn more about these topics, feel free to contact Bernie Weldon or Katie von Brethorst at Weiser High School  208-414-2595.  Commonsensemedia.org is also a great resource to use.  You can also join our REMIND texting service!  Monthly, we send out topics for discussion with your family and links to materials of interest.  Just send a text to 81010 and type “@e-citizen” in the message.