As the number of young people who have access to the internet increases, so too has the demand for information through digital platforms however, a new report by the OECD has found that most young people cannot “distinguish the truth from lies” when they are online.

The “Readers of the century XXI: developing reading skills in a digital world”, report by the OECD found that: “Less than half of young people cannot distinguish facts from opinions. Before, young people read books to gain information, now they are looking for information on the internet,” warned the OECD Director for Education, Andreas Schleider, during the presentation of the new 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, aimed at 15-year-old students from 79 countries and economies.

Only 47 percent of all young people surveyed were able to distinguish a fact from an opinion. In Portugal, the percentage rose to 50 percent.

“Schools can change this reality,” said Andreas Schleider, stressing the importance of having digital access and home and learning digital skills at school.

In Portugal, just over half of the students (55 percent) said they received training at school on how to recognise whether or not information is biased and, contrary to the trend in OECD countries, it was students from disadvantaged schools who learned the most about skills of digital literacy in school.

For the OECD director “it is not enough to transmit knowledge, it is necessary to captivate young people”, especially because when they are interested in a subject “they have infinite energy and are able to spend continuous hours involved in a theme”.

Regarding access to equipment, Portugal was again above the OECD average: In 2018, 93 percent of Portuguese students had a computer and internet at home to do schoolwork, while the OECD average was 89 percent.

However, this national average figure hides a digital inequality, since among disadvantaged students only 87 percent have equipment and internet access.

Despite “people having more technology at their disposal, most young people do not know how to surf the internet”, warned Andreas Schleider.

About one in five students from OECD countries admitted to feeling lost in the PISA test when browsing different pages. Portugal had a similar percentage of students (17 percent) who indicated that they had experienced these difficulties.
Approximately 28 percent of students from Portuguese schools followed the instructions of the items in the PISA reading assessment, carefully selecting the pages relevant to the tasks, limiting visits to irrelevant pages (strictly focused navigation) and actively browsing items from a single source and multiple (actively exploratory navigation).