Critical Ignoring as a Core Competence for Digital Citizens

Low-quality and misleading information online can hijack people’s attention, often by evoking curiosity, outrage or anger. Resisting certain types of information and actors online requires people to adopt new mental habits that help them avoid being tempted by attention-grabbing and potentially harmful content.

This study argues that digital information literacy must include the competence of “critical ignoring”—choosing what to ignore and where to invest one’s limited attentional capacities and reviews three types of cognitive strategies for implementing critical ignoring: self-nudging, in which people ignore temptations by removing them from their digital environments; lateral reading, which requires users to vet information by leaving the source and verifying its credibility elsewhere online; and the “do not feed the trolls” heuristic, which advises people to not reward malicious actors with attention.

Full article available at Current Directions in Psychological Science