Young People Not So Tech Savvy After All

May 21, 2008 07:45 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The “Google generation” might have grown up using Internet technologies, but experts say they don’t know how to conduct effective Web searches.

30-Second Summary

Some of the assumptions that we make about young people and technology are false, says a report from the Joint Information Systems Committee and the British Library titled “Information Behavior of the Researcher of the Future.”

According to the study, young people are not as adept at using the World Wide Web as previously thought. The report points out that many Internet users aged 25 and younger use only basic search tools and do not have the critical and analytical skills to assess the quality of information they find on the Web.

Eighty-nine percent of college students use search engines to begin their information searches, according to the report's statistics.

Although research librarians recognize the necessity and utility of Web searching, they are uneasy that the “Age of Google” has made students reluctant to seek out traditional academic sources such as books and journals.

They also point out that students do not know how to use scholarly resources properly on the Web.

“To become authoritative researchers, students need to learn information literacy skills, in particular evaluation, and learn disciplinary content and models of scholarly communication,” says University of Idaho reference librarian Mariana Regalado.

Undergraduate research librarian Genevieve Williams of the University of Idaho criticizes Google for decontextualizing information. “It is much easier to find a document using Google than it is to identify its origin, the parties responsible for it, or whether the information it contains is correct,” Williams says.

Headline Links: Reassessing the ‘Google Generation’

Related Topic: Young people and legal research

Opinion & Analysis: Research libraries and the Internet

Reference: 'How to Search the Web'


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