London, Feb 3 (ANI): Today's children are gullible to just about anything they read on the Internet - a study has revealed.
Apparently, they didn't find it hard to believe that there is an elusive 'tree octopus'.
A creature concocted in a research 'laboratory' has exposed shocking Internet illiteracy among students, with a leading expert warning it could mean a learning crisis in schools, reports the Daily Mail.
Donald Leu, a researcher from the University of Connecticut, conducted a study among the Facebook generation of students - deemed 'digital natives' due to their online savviness - to try to prove they will believe anything they read on the internet.
He fabricated the endangered Pacific Northwest tree octopus and set up its own website containing details of the creature in order to test students' ability to evaluate information they find online.
He practically proved his point when the kids did not doubt the website's claim that it was endangered mainly due to the penchant of wealthy "fashionistas" to use the tree octopuses as ornamental hat decorations.
So much so that they went on to insist on the existence of the octopus, even when researchers explained all the information had been made up.
According to Leu, founder and director of the New Literacies Research Lab at the university, "Students were unable to discern between fact and fiction online, which would lead them to graduate without the proper thinking skills needed to meet college and workforce demands.
"Most students simply have very little in the way of critical evaluation skills," he said.
'They may tell you they don't believe everything they read on the Internet, but they do. It's a cause for serious concern."
"Anyone can publish anything on the Internet, and today's students are not prepared to critically evaluate the information they find there," he added. (ANI)