Misinformation Is Contagious: Middle school students learn how to evaluate and share information responsibly through a digital game

Sarit Barzilai, Shiri Mor-Hagani, Fayez Abed, Danna Tal-Savir, Na'ama Goldik, Ina Talmon, Ohad Davidow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Digital games have emerged as promising tools for countering the spread of misinformation online. Previous studies have mostly used games to inoculate players against misleading communication techniques. There has also been a lack of research on misinformation games in middle school. Hence, the aims of this investigation were to examine to what extent a game can support middle school students' competence to evaluate online information and their dispositions to share information responsibly. For this purpose, we developed a game, Misinformation Is Contagious, that models reliable evaluation strategies and the social implications of sharing (in)accurate information. In two studies with 7th and 8th grade students (N = 84 and N = 131), we found that playing the misinformation game resulted in better accuracy discernment, sharing discernment, and metastrategic knowledge about corroboration, compared to playing a control language game. In Study 1, the effects on discernment scores were mainly due to higher ratings of accurate messages; whereas in Study 2, the effects were mainly due to lower ratings of inaccurate messages. In both studies, accuracy discernment mediated the effect of playing the misinformation game on sharing discernment. In Study 2, the misinformation game also had a direct effect on sharing discernment, suggesting it may have impacted players' dispositions to value accuracy while sharing. However, the game did not affect students' self-reported stances regarding sharing misinformation. These results provide initial evidence that a game designed to support evaluation strategies can help students resist misinformation and identify reliable information. The findings also suggest that games can potentially promote responsible information sharing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104832
JournalComputers and Education
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Games
  • Information literacy
  • Misinformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Education


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