By: Meghan Mathias

Have you ever been scrolling on Youtube and realized that the title of every video on the trending page seems too good to be true? Did that dog really learn how to sing Adele? That person really won the lottery and actually wants to give all of the money away to people for free? Well, this is probably because these titles are too good to be true. This is called “clickbait” in the online sphere.

According to GCFGlobal, clickbait is a sensationalized headline that encourages you to click a link to an article, image, or video. These headlines often do not present objective facts, but instead, appeal to the viewer’s emotions and curiosity. You could find clickbait on Youtube videos, online news articles, and basically any other form of online media. Online entities do this because they gain revenue from advertising companies for every click their content gets, whether the title is true, false, or exaggerated. The trick with clickbait is that in order to not necessarily make false claims, these headlines are just extremely exaggerated versions of the truth. Maybe the dog didn’t learn how to sing, but it let out a howl that sounded similar to a melody.

The idea that anything you see on the Internet should not be entirely trusted is not new, however, clickbait is. To keep you and your children from wasting time on content that is trying to trick you, here are some tips on how to avoid clickbait.

  • Check to see who posted the content and research their online presence to see if they have made false claims in the past
  • If it looks too good to be true, it most likely is
  • If the headline seems designed to appeal to shock value, emotional response, etc., it is most likely clickbait
  • Does the headline provide information on the main points of the content, or does it simply lure you in with dramatic questions and claims?
  • Keep an eye out for the attached picture or thumbnail, if it seems outrageous and highly edited, it’s most likely clickbait

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some ways that you can try to avoid clickbait Youtube videos?
  2. Have you ever fallen prey to clickbait, and if so, what did you do when you realized you had?
  3. Do you think spending more time on the Internet makes you better at detecting lies and exaggerations like clickbait?
  4. Why is it important to always fact check something you read on the Internet? What are some ways you could fact check content?


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