The increasing polarization and disinformation in the global news mediascape, especially regarding worldwide issues such as the COVID pandemic, leads to increasing feelings of distrust of the government and undermining of democratic institutions. People are uncertain of what they can believe and who they can trust. The problem of disinformation in the media is therefore an increasingly significant threat. This is especially prominent amongst young people, as more and more of their social life takes place online. They are constantly subjected to disinformation.
The educators for the program have gathered several worrying quotes from the classroom. For example, one student mentioned that: “Nowadays journalists only spread fake news. That is why free speech should be forbidden.” Another student said ““My grandpa keeps sharing fake news about Covid-19 on social media. I find it difficult to talk about this with him, so I mostly ignore it.” A peer educator remarked that “during the courses students casually share that they are on QAnon fora all the time.” These examples show that a workshop arming young people against disinformation is very relevant en could help them greatly.
Under Pressure aims to strengthen young people against this onslaught of information. Through the game, they learn to recognize certain tactics and characteristics of false and misleading information. The game itself is based on scientific research, which provides us with initial evidence that playing the game increases people’s ability to spot and resist misinformation. The combination of fun and fundamental issues makes Under Pressure an invaluable tool for students in the current media landscape. We challenge young people to reexamine their views on disinformation, journalism and democratic values in a game that is based on the scientific theory of change.