Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Intergenerational Perspectives on Media and Fake News During Covid-19: Results From Online Intergenerational Focus Groups

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Abstract:  This article reflects on intergenerational perspectives on media habits and fake news during Covid-19. Active participation is closely linked to the citizens’ media literacy competencies. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, inequalities in access, use, and understanding of the information conveyed by the media became more evident. Digital skills are essential to encourage co-learning and active ageing among different generations. This article relies on data collected during two online intergenerational focus groups with family pairs of different ages (grandparents and grandchildren) conducted in Portugal in the context of the European project SMaRT-EU. The focus groups addressed subjects such as news, fake news, critical perspective towards social networks and digital communication, and younger and older people’s perspectives regarding these matters. The thematic analysis of the Portuguese data suggests that, by placing grandparents and grandchildren side by side, the online intergenerational focus groups promoted sharing and exchange of knowledge, valuing the intergenerational encounter and the voices of one of society’s most fragile groups. Data also shows that participants have different perspectives on communication and digitally mediated interaction, mainly related to age factors and media literacy skills. As for fake news, although grandparents and grandchildren show awareness of the phenomenon, for the youngest participant it was complex to identify characteristics or the spaces where they are disseminated. The young adult participant was the most proficient and autonomous digital media user. Results further indicate that, although the online environment contributed to continuing research in times of pandemic, bringing together family members with different media literacy skills and ages poses difficulties related to the recruitment of participants.

Keywords:  fake news; information disorders; intergenerationality; media habits; online focus groups; Portugal



© Ana Filipa Oliveira, Maria José Brites, Carla Cerqueira. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.