We live in a time when information is at our fingertips. Whether it is via smartphones, tablets or laptops, different news sources can be accessed in seconds. The rapid increase in news consumption and production, however, comes at a serious cost — media illiteracy.

Under the First Amendment, people have the right to freedom of expression without government interference.

This has led many to believe they can post information on social media regardless of the validity of their claims, and they are mostly right. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects online platforms that publish third-party content from any legal liability for it.

But this often leads to consumers believing inaccurate sources. Consumers lack a basic understanding of how to properly evaluate these sources.

To become more media-literate, readers need to know how to identify and evaluate the credibility of sources, and they must diversify the news sources they consume. If consumers were to read a variety of sources, they would reduce the risk of being influenced by particular media outlets that may have biases, and they would improve the skills they need to determine the credibility of those sources.

Additionally, audiences need to reduce confirmation bias. Readers’ preconceived ideas about issues can lead to searches for articles confirming their beliefs, rather than ones that supply unbiased truth. Readers must search for information in an objective fashion.

Integrating media literacy into school curriculum will provide students with better insight when evaluating sources, ultimately resulting in a more media-literate society.

Students are our future, and if teenagers can become properly educated on source evaluation, future readers will be able to better distinguish accurate news from fake news, making consumers better equipped to engage knowledgeably and thoughtfully in our society.

Anisha Parida is in 10th grade at Manheim Township High School.