Scholar Urges Teaching Kids the Benefit of Doubt

Lecture on Critical Thinking is Part of Center for Children and Families Series

April 21, 2009

Children are bombarded with more information than ever before, but parents can help them cope by raising them to think with a healthy dose of skepticism. According to Dr. Candice M. Mills, developmental psychologist in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, it is important that children “know when to doubt.”

Mills explains that children are living in an “age of misinformation” where they are inundated with information from television, the Internet, radio, advertisements and peers. “A lot of the danger may come from children assuming that most sources of information are accurate,” she said.

The changing media and technology landscape also makes it difficult for parents to keep up with all of their children’s sources of information. Within the past several years, the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace have skyrocketed, leaving some parents in the dark about the new ways their children are receiving information.

Mills stresses the need for parents to educate themselves about evolving information sources. She also recommends communicating with children that some information is biased or intended to manipulate, and that peers can give misinformation.

“We want children and teens to use critical thinking to recognize when a source may be inaccurate, misleading or biased,” Mills said.

Mills will offer parents tips at a lecture, Wednesday, April 29, at 7 p.m. in CN 1.102.  She will also discuss some of the reasons children and adults may automatically trust information and what factors may lead them to doubt.

The lecture, titled “Encouraging Children to Think Critically in an Age of Misinformation,” is part of the Center for Children and Families’ free Spring Lecture Series for parents, educators and child development practitioners.

The lecture is closely related to Mills’ research interests. Her research explores the development of social cognition – how children evaluate the knowledge and beliefs of others as well as themselves, and what changes over the course of development. She conducts her research with her graduate and undergraduate student teams through her lab, the “Think Lab.”

Mills earned her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Yale University. She joined UT Dallas in 2005.

The Center for Children and Families is part of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. For more information about the lecture series or the center, visit the Web site.


Media Contact: Audrey Glickert, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4320, audrey.glickert@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Candice Mills   “A lot of the danger may come from children assuming that most sources of information are accurate,” said Dr. Candice M. Mills.

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