24 February 2012

Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality – New Report from the Berkman Center

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The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University published a substantial new report from the Youth and Media project: “Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality” by Urs Gasser, Sandra Cortesi, Momin Malik, & Ashley Lee.

Building upon a process- and context-oriented information quality framework, this paper seeks to map and explore what we know about the ways in which young users of age 18 and under search for information online, how they evaluate information, and how their related practices of content creation, levels of new literacies, general digital media usage, and social patterns affect these activities.

A review of selected literature at the intersection of digital media, youth, and information quality—primarily works from library and information science, sociology, education, and selected ethnographic studies—reveals patterns in youth’s information-seeking behavior, but also highlights the importance of contextual and demographic factors both for search and evaluation.

Looking at the phenomenon from an information-learning and educational perspective, the literature shows that youth develop competencies for personal goals that sometimes do not transfer to school, and are sometimes not appropriate for school. Thus far, educational initiatives to educate youth about search, evaluation, or creation have depended greatly on the local circumstances for their success or failure.

Key Findings:
1. Search shapes the quality of information that youth experience online.
2. Youth use cues and heuristics to evaluate quality, especially visual and interactive elements.
3. Content creation and dissemination foster digital fluencies that can feed back into search and evaluation behaviors.
4. Information skills acquired through personal and social activities can benefit learning in the academic context.

To access the full report (150 pages) and additional material, please visit: http://youthandmedia.org/infoquality

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