Young people today are often referred as Digital Natives; the first generation growing up with new digital technologies (Prensky M., 2001). The internet has revolutionised social and cognitive behaviours, including the way young people seek information. Any service supporting young people needs to take these changes into consideration.
In recent years, many studies have been carried out into how young people search for information online. A study from Rebecca Eynon highlights some of the factors which influence the phenomenon of “online everyday life information seeking”, defined as “the acquisition of various informational […] elements which people employ to orient themselves in daily life or solve problems not directly connected with performance of occupational tasks” (Eyton R. et al. 2011 and Savolainen 1995).
The study found four variables directly affecting the uptake of online seeking behaviour: age, internet access, self-concept of learning (defined as a positive attitude and skills towards learning new things) and friends’ engagement with technology. The research also discovered that variables in gender, social economic status, perceived skills, parental support and schools’ use of technology do not have a direct correlation with online everyday life information seeking.
The research shows that when developing online resources providing everyday life information to young people, organisations need to take into account of the role of peer support and of the self-concept of learning.
However, the research leaves a question open: how would the situation, what they’re looking for and the devices through which the information is accessed affect young people’s online behaviour? With the internet being accessed through an ever growing range of devices, the question of how these devices could affect online help seeking behaviour needs to be addressed and further research needs to be done in this area.
As an online charity providing online information and support to young people, it is crucial for us to conduct further research in this area. So… watch this space! We will keep you updated with any new insight into the topic.