Teenagers find the internet very difficult to use ....
July 23, 2003 3:22 PM   Subscribe

Teenagers find the internet a frustrating experience A survey in the north east of England finds that teenagers are increasingly being alienated in their online experience because they aren't being given the skillsets to cope with finding or using the information. Seems to be the old story of schools buying computers but the kids not being engaged enough on how to use them (which has been the case since I was stuck in front of an Acorn Archimedes fifteen years go). Here is a similar article from Australia which describes how their eductation system is coping with the issue.
posted by feelinglistless (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
stupid kids
posted by rorycberger at 3:33 PM on July 23, 2003

I'm 17, I don't have a problem and my school doesn't seem to have any problems with teaching it. Just another of these pointless surveys that should never have been started.
posted by knapah at 3:36 PM on July 23, 2003

ss s cfsss ss ssssss s
posted by tomharpel at 3:45 PM on July 23, 2003

posted by quonsar at 4:07 PM on July 23, 2003

teenagers are increasingly being alienated in their online experience because they aren't being given the skillsets to cope with finding or using the information
I have actually seen something that is more or less the opposite of this in my 17 year-old daughter and her friends, in that they have developed the mindset that the only place to look for information is on the 'net. Libraries (you know, with real books and stuff) do not seem to figure in their list of places to find information when doing research, which is a shame.
posted by dg at 4:07 PM on July 23, 2003

When I was a kid, we had to learn how to use the internet all by ourselves! My parents and teachers couldn't even turn on a computer, and WE LIKED IT!
posted by hammurderer at 4:16 PM on July 23, 2003

Maybe the libraries should catch up with the kids.
posted by abez at 4:18 PM on July 23, 2003

Why should you be "given the skillsets" to learn to use the internet?

All you need is an IQ, www.google.com and a complete lack of social life.
posted by signal at 4:31 PM on July 23, 2003

teens have social life. thats why they don't get it.
posted by dabitch at 4:49 PM on July 23, 2003

dg, you are completely right in observing that teens use the Internet for everything and do not use "books" and "magazines" for research.

But this is not "the opposite" of what the article discussed, it is another side of the same die: that is, that seeking information is difficult, and we educators need to help kids do it, more than we need to do the kind of memorize-regurgitate-rinse-and-repeat sort of thing we've been doing for a century or two or so. (Not that I'm opposed to content!!)

Some things I can find on the Internet in ninety seconds it would take me ninety minutes in a library to find. On the other hand (and this is the hand that db's daughter hasn't found yet), there are some things that are practically impossible to find on the Net, but are easy to find in a library. This becomes truer in college.

Most MeFiers laugh at this article, but, y'know, we know how to use the net because we've spent a good portion of our lives navigating it. I've helped too many kids (and not always successfully) trying to find info on the Net to think that we don't need to do more to help kids separate the wheat from the chaff.

Sure, most of them will develop these skills eventually, with practice, but the job of high school teachers is to accelerate the process of the acquisition of knowledge...and the acquisition of the knowledge of how to quickly and deeply acquire knowledge.

(Sorry for the longest post in my MeFi history.)
posted by kozad at 5:34 PM on July 23, 2003

I agree dg - it amazes me when I come across university essays and theses on the net and find a whole pile of hyperlinks and google searches in the bibliography. How does that even work? I know that Google is next to useless for searching for 95% of the information I need in my studies. Relying on simple internet searches to find information for research, at any "level" of education, will make you miss all the information in books, journals, and reports that aren't on the net (ie. historically most of them). Not to mention that the information you get is potentially highly unreliable - students are potentially unaware of the difference between edited, peer-reviewed content, corporate publicity, and chaotic private web pages.

The solution, I think, is to make sure that students know the internet is a great tool to find where information is, even if the actual information isn't on the net. The fact that every library has it's catalogue online. The usefulness of abstract search engines (I like Biological Abstracts) and online journals. At the end of the day they still might end up borrowing books from the library, but the internet will give them a better idea of where to look.
posted by Jimbob at 5:38 PM on July 23, 2003

Jimbob: absolutely. A well-stocked library properly hooked up to full-text and bibliographical on-line databases can be a joy to behold. A database like LION (Literature online), for instance, is, potentially, an incredibly useful tool for finding and comparing texts and sources, tracing stylistic changes through time, and so on. Likewise, bibliographical databases (like Historical Abstracts) provide an excellent way of indexing (and thus adding value to) existing serial collections.

However, this needs to be properly distinguished from simple internet access in libraries. A set of database subscriptions, tailored to and supplementing the library's hard-copy collections, is far, far, more useful to someone doing more than casual surfing than some stand alone PCs with (public) internet connections.

I say this having worked in a public library with some excellent serial holdings which were almost never used because their card indexes had been stashed in the basement (too ugly and outmoded, it seems) and library managers obviously didn't think that replacing them with online database subscriptions was a priority. But we had lots of internet PCs, and some very nice (and culturally sensitive) carpet and wall-fittings.

One gets the impression that a certain generation of library manager has no idea what to do with an existing hard-copy collection, and rather wishes it would go away so they could free up some space and put in more of those nice, shiny computers hooked up to that groovy new internet thing.

posted by Sonny Jim at 6:36 PM on July 23, 2003

Point. Click. Methinks said teenagers were taking the piss.
posted by Orange Goblin at 12:27 AM on July 24, 2003

Compare and contrast with the hole in the wall experiment.
Sugata Mitra has a PhD in physics and heads research efforts at New Delhi's NIIT, a fast-growing software and education company with sales of more than $200 million and a market cap over $2 billion. But Mitra's passion is computer-based education, specifically for India's poor. He believes that children, even terribly poor kids with little education, can quickly teach themselves the rudiments of computer literacy...

To test his ideas, Mitra 13 months ago launched something he calls "the hole in the wall experiment." He took a PC connected to a high-speed data connection and imbedded it in a concrete wall next to NIIT's headquarters in the south end of New Delhi. The wall separates the company's grounds from a garbage-strewn empty lot used by the poor as a public bathroom. Mitra simply left the computer on, connected to the Internet, and allowed any passerby to play with it. He monitored activity on the PC using a remote computer and a video camera mounted in a nearby tree.

What he discovered was that the most avid users of the machine were ghetto kids aged 6 to 12, most of whom have only the most rudimentary education and little knowledge of English. Yet within days, the kids had taught themselves to draw on the computer and to browse the Net. Some of the other things they learned, Mitra says, astonished him.
posted by Pericles at 10:35 AM on July 24, 2003

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