Net savvy?

Teenagers using mobiles Last week I finally got round to reading a couple of ‘google generation’ papers from earlier this year: Information behaviour of
the researcher of the future
, PDF (a UCL CIBER Group report for JISC/BL) & Growing up with Google: What it means to education (Oblinger, a Becta report). Together the pair provide both a contrasting view and important similarities. My simplified summary certainly won’t do them justice!

Firstly the contrast, Diana Oblinger highlights a Google generation that are different from previous generations: “have integrated technology into their lives”, “constantly connected”, “demands immediate response”, lots of stuff I’ve heard before. There was only a limited reference to the diversity of technology usage and attitudes of this age group, for example my missing net generation post. The CIBER research was less sure about the neat Google generation label. The report suggests that as well as that age group being quite diverse (20% ‘digital dissidents’) there are many older folk using technologies in a net-gen manner too. One interesting stat for me concerned the user generated content of Wikipedia & YouTube: While it is mainly viewed by 18-24 year-olds; it is mainly produced by 45-54 year-olds and 35-44 year-olds respectively (From: Pew / Internet Typology Report)

Where the two papers came together was on the important area of information literacy and being net savvy. Oblinger highlighted a lack of proficiency with academic ICTs, a lack of information fluency and not enough understanding of issues such as intellectual property and privacy. Tied into this she also suggested an immaturity resulting in a lack of reflection on online activities. The CIBER report also highlights poor information skills, but not restricted to the Google generation!

Both reports suggest that we need to start young to deal with the not-so-net-savvy:

“It calls for a protracted effort, starting in the early years, extending throughout life” (Oblinger)

“the key point is that information skills have to be devloped during formative school years” (CIBER)


Reader Comments

  1. Hi Matt,

    Belated comment here. (Just trying to get back on top of work after my 2 weeks in the US, about which I shall be blogging shortly!)

    Anecdotally… We’ve just conducted a really big review of our careers website, and in the focus group I ran I was shocked to discover that only 1 out of 8 of these so-called “Google generation” students had even heard of RSS feeds, while none of them ever read blogs (except our careers blogs, which was nice!). I started to wonder whether we have got a bit ahead of ourselves. Maybe we are not distinguishing between students’ heavy use of social networking tools, mobile technologies etc and the use of other technologies. Is there any data which shows different socio-demographic groups’ use of individual technologies separately, I wonder, rather than lumping them all together to determine degrees of “net savviness”…?


  2. Hi Helen,
    There might be more in the report above (Pew Internet) I’ll let you know if i come across anything for the UK


  3. I started my first blog ( at the age of 40+, but most of my colleagues are under 30 – and I think I have more enthusiasm for ‘new’ media than they do simply because I remember a time when it didn’t exist (and don’t want to go back there). Apart from the one guy who’s really into Web 2.0 but believes everything he reads on Wikipedia…

  4. Can someone point me to the original PEW document referred to above?

    “While it is mainly viewed by 18-24 year-olds; it is mainly produced by 45-54 year-olds and 35-44 year-olds respectively (From: Pew / Internet Typology Report, PDF)”

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