Study on Youth and Information Credibility
12.17.09 | The results are based on a web-based survey of a representative sample of 2,747 children (age 11 to 18) with internet access in the United States, and one parent of each child.
The full report will be available in early 2010 as part of the MacArthur Series on Digital Media and Learning, published by MIT Press.
Read Spotlight’s interview with Flanagin about the findings. Below are some of the study’s highlights:
- Most kids begin using the internet between Grades 2 and 6.
- Nearly all kids surveyed (97%) are online by eighth grade.
- The average child uses the internet (for purposes other than email) 14 hours a week.
- Youth believe they are more highly skilled in using the internet (technical skills, search skills and knowledge about trends) than a typical user.
- Kids are concerned about the credibility of what they find online, but 89% reported that “some” or “a lot” of what they found online was credible.
- The amount of online information children consider credible increases with age, but their concern about that information does not.
- 73% of children have received some form of information literacy training.
- One-third of children say they, or someone they know, has had a bad experience owing to false information found on the web or via email.
- Two-thirds have heard news reports about similarly bad experiences with inaccurate information found on the internet.
- Most kids found the internet to be the most believable source for school work, entertainment and commercial information.
- Kids said the web was a better source than books for school papers and reports.
- Overall kids place very little trust in information found on blogs.
- Wikipedia was a less credible source for youth than other online encyclopedias (Britannica and Citizendium), but when presented with brand-neutral content, they preferred information from Wikipedia.
- They also believe that others should view information from Wikipedia with greater trepidation than they do themselves.
- For most kids, online entertainment and health information were equally credible.
- Although most kids take seriously the idea they should be concerned about credibility (by invoking a systematic and analytical approach), many also are less rigorous when actually evaluating the information they find online.
- There was little evidence that a “digital divide” (no demographic differences) affected how youth evaluated the credibility of information online.
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