Researchers Scoff At Google Generation

The kids are skimming instead of thinking

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The kids may be able to fly around the web at ludicrous speed, but if a basic search can’t find what they want, they could have a tough time digging up more information.

The next time your child hands you your cartoon butt in a battle on Acme Arsenal, you can take comfort in the little tyke’s relative inability to do the kind of critical, deeper thinking needed to make the most of searching the web.

Maybe that’s a petty statement, but after you’ve had your Foghorn Leghorn handed back to you in extra crispy for the tenth time in a row, you’ll take a moral victory over the Google Generation.

Resource Shelf said that Google Generation is a myth anyway. While the young people growing up with high speed Internet and rapid web search, a research paper from the CIBER research team at University College London said the kids have issues when the first page of the search results doesn’t have what they want.

"The untested assumption is that this generation is somehow qualitatively ‘different’ from what went before: that they have different aptitudes, attitudes, expectations and even different communication and information ‘literacies’ and that these will somehow transfer to their use of libraries and information services as they enter higher education and research careers," the report said.

Those literacies may come at the expense of "creative and independent thinking." Search engines may fit well with the college lifestyle, but when students apply the same habits with more critical sources, like electronic journals and other virtual library resources, they won’t retrieve the best results.


Researchers Scoff At Google Generation
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  • Slideri812

    I agree that that the "Google generation" lacks the ability to think independently, act for them selves without significant reguard for what their peers think and suffer from two gender disease; instant gratification and entitlement.

    You may not think that these have anything to do with intellectual and artistic development, but the dependencies created by instant gratification via quick searches, iTunes downloads and IMing stifle an individuals ability to self discover and self gratify. Self gratification is most often not instant, causes one to look deeper within, and strengthens ones self of independent personality.

    Entitlement on the other hand is creating a false sense of empowerment; that some how they are better then all other generations before. This is fueled at home, by the non-corrective "everybody’s a winner, there really are no losers" attitude of many parents today. And by school systems that are overly confident in the ability of technology to educate. This further separation from the individual human experience is being replaced with collective reasoning, collective approval, and on there own; collective self importance.

    The greatest minds of recorded history were often loners, and unconcerned with the opinions of others. Often thought of as "eccentric" in some cases, flat out crazy in other cases. But it is this free and independent thinking that lead to the invention of the light bulb, the phonograph, the first video camera and more.

    If the competitive pools that produced these types of people that have played such huge rolls in bringing humanity to this point in time are lost on this generation, heaven help the following generations that may likely be incapable of independent thought as we know it today.

    Just my tcw

    • Annie

      I certainly agree with you on how this younger generation relies on the internet for answers.  Its like a substitute parent yet with no monitoring and guidance to help positive upbringing.  Yahoo is the same way.  I was appauled last year when I went to Yahoo Answers to inquire about kennels in the community.  I noticed lots of questions about homework where in my day, we  had to go into the library and look up things on a chronilog catalog which seems prehistoric now a days.  Know-it-alls will answer these kids asking for quick answers about their homework without giving thought; they just want to write down someone else’s thoughts to satisfy the homework assignment.  This is sad especially for teachers today.  What kind of grade do teachers give them(knowing they speak " texted abbreviation" and have no creative senses) and then turns in a paper that has outstanding philosophical thought about a subject? 

      We are rewarding children for low performance skills.  This is definitely a set-up for failure because they’ll never get to reach their potential.  Parents and teachers are catching them before they fall.  These kids are softies and babied too long.  When will we guide them into the adult world?  Life span is greater in the adult world than in childhood.  I’m not scared, I’m ashamed of what we are producing.   Will this be considered a disability, too?  And will my tax dollar foot the bill here, as well because we didn’t do a worthwhile job in upbringing?


      • David

        I agree with Annie on the issue for grading philosophical insight from an inarticulate writer, but surely the answer is that a fail is due?  Just as inarticulate responses must also be failed because expressing and sharing knowledge is more important than knowing.


        I disagree with the ire of the librarian;, their reliable and wondrous realm is being undermined by a surge of material that ranges from cream to pungent refuse.  Wikipedia is not reliable, soft covered badly bound poorly laid out publications on the "specials" table are not good literature, but neither is all that has made it into print.  Still, one has a better chance of finding gold in a library than in a search engine.  "Copy and paste" has made it too easy to slip into regurgitating material without intellectual challenge, and opens the door to stealing another persons work.


        I was taught in investigations school that "a confession is a great start to an investigation".  The same is true here;, get some guidance and a list of questions from reading the cheap resources like search engines, then follow it up in the reliable corridors of dusty books.


        I participate frequently in a software support group and I refuse to answer anything that looks like homework questions, and when I get a base level question with no insight on what the person has tried I refer them to Read The F*&%ing Manual before they try to pick my brains.  I think that handing answers out is about the greatest disservice we can do our interest groups, and note with some humour that a lot of  RTFM questions from single digit posters are coming from a place that is supposed to be taking over the technical lead in the world for projects.  No great threat there.  We need to bear in mind that feeding the world is a really bad idea, but teaching the world to produce food is a wonderful legacy.

  • http://www.emersondirect.wordpress.com Marc Meyer

    David I received quite the grief for essentially writing the same thing in a blog post this past friday. In a nut shell, I remarked that kids were becoming lazy and relying on Google and Wkipedia for their information. They also wanted their information fast and furious. They are accustomed to that.

    I followed that up by saying that, the last place that they could probably be found would be at the library. Of course I was attacked by librarians for making the comments, but the digital age has fostered a dependence on information that can be condensed and regurgitated at alarming rates and speeds,

    So what has happened is the library has not been able to adapt, kids "expect" their information to be delivered and we as a technologically advanced society are doing nothing to slow down this aspect.


  • http://newscritique.blogspot.com/ Mohan

    I don’t think the problem is so alarming as made out to be. Ultimately, its speed that matters. Life has become so fast paced and changed, the kids can’t be expected to avoid the modern day distractions. Have we not accepted fast food to avoid the slow cooking process at home? Today’s kids are a lot smarter than you and me!

  • http://www.virtuallrc.com Michael Bell, Former Chair, Tex. Assoc. of School Librarians

    The problem is that that Google and the other major search engines are not organized to fulfill what should be the number one requirement for serious research – the validity of the information they retrieve.  This is because there is no validity measure that the search engines apply to search results.  Rather, page rank (page popularity) is the foremost reason any particular search result appears before any other.  A particular page may be full of biases and inaccuracies, but it may still appear higher in Google search results simply because, for whatever reason, it is linked to by numerous pages with high popularity (high page ranking.)

    With the exception of Google, most of the other search engines tend to mix sponsored and organic links in the main body of the page. This can be very confusing to students who can have difficulty discerning between the two.  Research has also shown that sponsored links many times point to sites rated as “risky” by (McAfee) SiteAdvisor.

    These are very real drawbacks for student use of the popular search engines for serious research.  Fortunately, emerging Internet tends may help ameliorate some of these problems.  Three relatively new information services, Citizendium, http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/CZ:Content_Policy, Veropedia http://en.veropedia.com, and Scholarpedia, http://www.scholarpedia.org, make a positive attempt to apply reliability standards to information made available to students.

    My site, the Virtual Learning Resources Center ( http://www.virtuallrc.com ), also attempts to better the quality of information available to student researchers on the Web by creating a search engine that indexes only Internet information pages previously recommended by teachers, librarians, and educational and library consortia world-wide. 

  • http://kaide.blogspot.com cyberpunk

    I agree with you folks. The kids of today are handicapped without the Internet. They’ve lost the ability to find information via the old-fashioned way, which involves methods like experimentation, observation, and analysis. A lot of these kids submit printed out pages of Web sites, and get good grades from clueless teachers.

  • Rob C

    They do have good online resources, if u know where to look like encyclopedias online that you get with ur college tuition. Plus there are many great websites that specific info that ur looking for like space.com nasa.gov and much more. You just got to know what ur looking for.

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