Cookie usage policy

The website of the University Carlos III of Madrid use its own cookies and third-party cookies to improve our services by analyzing their browsing habits. By continuing navigation, we understand that it accepts our cookie policy. "Usage rules"


Almost 60% of secondary school students in public schools identify fake news


More than half of Spain’s Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO, in its Spanish acronym) students can distinguish between fake and real news. This is one of the conclusions of a study carried out by researchers from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) which analyses Spanish public school students’ approach to the media.

Casi un 60% de los estudiantes de secundaria de centros públicos identifican las noticias falsas

The research shows how these students (between 11 and 16) get their information and how they deal with misinformation, among other factors. “A fake headline about Covid-19 was identified as fake news by 58.8% of the students, while 51.8% considered a headline containing fake news about immigration to be true”, says one of the authors of the study, Eva Herrero, who published this work in the scientific journal Comunicar together with Leonardo La Rosa, both from the UC3M Communications Department.

Regarding discrimination between journalistic genres, 92.1% say that they are able to distinguish between information and opinion, but researchers found that 64.4% confuse an opinion piece with an informative text. In relation to the preferred platforms to get information, the majority do so through social media (55.5%), television (29.1%) and their family and friends groups (7.9%), ahead of digital newspapers (6.5%) or radio (1%).

Researchers have studied how teenagers deal with the media from a mixed approach. Firstly, they carried out a quantitative analysis, surveying more than 1600 ESO students from public schools in Spain. Secondly, they carried out more than 75 in-depth interviews with teachers at this level of education. According to the teaching staff at these schools, among students there is a media consumption which is characterised by the intensive and uncritical use of certain audiovisual and digital media such as TikTok, Instagram or YouTube.

Following the interviews with teachers, the majority of secondary school teaching staff noted the opportunity to introduce content related to how the media works into the curriculum. In this sense, they have detected that when working with students in the classroom on topics related to the content they consume on their social media, the students’ motivation and attention is greater.

This research, carried out with the support of a BBVA Foundation Leonardo Grant for Cultural Researchers and Creators, shows that media and information literacy is still a pending subject in the secondary school curriculum.

More information: Herrero-Curiel, E., & La-Rosa, L. (2022). Secondary education students and media literacy in the age of disinformation. Comunicar, 73.

Version française (French version)

中文翻譯 (Chinese translation)