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Internet Literacy Among Young People in the 21 st Century Nancy Cheever, Communications Department Larry Rosen, Psychology Department California State.

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Presentation on theme: "Internet Literacy Among Young People in the 21 st Century Nancy Cheever, Communications Department Larry Rosen, Psychology Department California State."— Presentation transcript:

1 Internet Literacy Among Young People in the 21 st Century Nancy Cheever, Communications Department Larry Rosen, Psychology Department California State University, Dominguez Hills Western Psychological Association Conference Portland, OR ● April 24, 2009

2 Introduction Young people use the Internet, more than any other source, to seek out information and entertainment

3 Introduction Popular websites’ information becomes most important Top five websites for 13- to 17-year-old boys (2008): –YouTube –Facebook –Google –Yahoo –ESPN Top five websites for 13- to 17-year-old girls (2008): –Facebook –Google –YouTube –MySpace –Yahoo

4 Introduction How accurate is the information they are receiving? Do they understand the messages and information they seek and find?

5 Background Internet = modern “wild, wild, west” –very little regulation of content –accuracy levels vary widely Accessibility of Internet information makes it easy for young people to locate information But are they locating and using the best information available?

6 Background 21 st Century young people trust Internet information They use Wikipedia even though they may be aware that its information may be flawed They trade opinions online and trust their peers more than printed published opinions from experts

7 21 st Century Young People Children are more susceptible to media messages because they process them differently than adults –(Strasburger & Wilson, 2002)

8 Five mental tasks involved when child interacts with Internet (Piaget, adapted from Singer & Revenson, 1996): 1)child selects the important information for processing 2) child takes information and applies it to previous messages 3) child draws inferences from the implicit cues in the message 4) child must draw on past experiences and memories to explain the cues in the messages 5) child evaluates the message and decides whether it is positive or negative 21 st Century Young People

9 Related Studies Students do not possess optimal Internet skills, both in searching for and evaluating websites In test of literacy, students had either too much information to wade through, or simply did not take the time to find the best information –(Bond, Fevyer & Pitt, 2006)

10 Related Studies Students lack skills to critically analyze found information They assume that all the information is equal, truthful, and has the same value –Wood (2004)

11 Related Studies Students tend to “self learn” how to search for information using the Internet Self learning does not help them learn basic search skills Self learning does not support problem-solving skills –Bond, et al (2006)

12  Children lack experience from which to draw and process information  Young people have fewer points of context from which to draw and process information  Children’s evaluative aptitude lacking  Not sophisticated enough to make sound judgments about content value 21 st Century Young People

13 Purpose How can parents and educators teach children how to have Internet literacy when young people implicitly trust the Internet and believe all the information they seek?

14 What We Know …

15 21 st Century Young People Learn differently than previous generations –they are multi-taskers –they enjoy social networking –they interact with several types of technology at once –they want to be entertained –they need a multi-media approach to education

16 Young People Use Wikipedia Usually appears in first five results of Google search 8th most trafficked site on Internet –Britannica.com ranks 4,430th Employs no experts Brittanica.com –4,000 expert contributors –100 Nobel Prize winners –more than 100 full-time employees, including highly trained editors –not free

17 Young People Use Wikipedia Content written and edited by anyone –no authors listed –both experts and non-experts write and edit information Material is in constant state of revision Company acknowledges its limitations and lack of accuracy in various entries Strides are being made to inform public of varying levels of accuracy

18 Young People Read BLOGS Written by anyone Material is not vetted through editors –unverified information –bloggers can frame issue any way they please Challenges traditional journalism because of its ability to change minds Blogs are not a major news source –(Hargrove & Stempel, 2007)

19 Credible Internet Sources A credible online source, or website, defined: –one that provides correct information without bias –contains material written by experts who are trustworthy Source credibility adds to increased use of websites –(Greer, 2003) Diversity of information increases perceived credibility of Internet sources –(Choi, Watt & Lynch, 2006)

20 2008 Internet Credibility Study Percentage of respondents who are likely to use various sources when searching for information about a topic _________________________________________________ Source % who are likely to use _________________________________________________ General website 91% Wikipedia 77% Library book 58% Online book 46% Printed Encyclopedia 43%

21 Percentage of respondents who use various numbers of Google links searching for information about a topic Other

22 2008 Internet Credibility Study Young people are willing to use unreliable and unverified material because it is free and readily available Trusting individuals trust unverified information sources Website credibility not often checked Source credibility creates a false sense of validity and believability of information

23 So What? Potentially creating an information illiterate generation that cannot evaluate information Could contribute to the “Dumbing Down” effect already attributed to news media

24 So What? Idiocracy?

25 Approaches Published approaches to this problem include: –librarian-written manuals helping students become literate in online information –guides that help students identify credible sources from a variety of search engines (Henry, 2006)

26 Solutions WE … Cannot change content Cannot go back to demanding use of verified printed sources WE … Can change the way we teach young people to interact with content Can understand that in many cases this generation learns differently than the people educating them

27 Solutions Understand the content young people are exposed to and seek out Become more involved in young people’s Internet activities Explain Internet credibility

28 Solutions EXPLAIN WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON INTERNET SITES: Information that includes names of authors and their credentials. Does the author of the material have authority, credentials, qualifications or credible affiliations? Are the authors experts in their field or simply passive observers? Be sure author’s contact information is included

29 Solutions Look for detailed information that has credible, peer reviewed references Look for information that is comparable to similar print resources Look for objective information Look for current information Text should be free of spelling and typing errors

30 Solutions Understand differences between: –Corporate, business or marketing websites (.com) –Another type of organization such as a news organization (.com) –Advocacy group promoting a point-of-view; non-profit organization (.org) –Personal web pages (-) –Informational page by an educational institution (.edu) –Informational page sponsored by a governmental agency (.gov)

31 Solutions When explaining Internet credibility issues to young people, understand they: –are multi-taskers –are social networkers –interact with several types of technology at once –want to be entertained –need a multi-media approach to learning

32 Thank You


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