The Way Teens Find Information

Posted by Linda W. Braun

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about Rupert Murdoch and what he said about searching when he bought the company that owns My Space. (You can check out Murdoch’s My Space space.) At that time Murdoch was quoted as saying that teens use their online social networks to find information instead of going to search engines – like Google.

Then yesterday I listened to the Diggnation podcast. The podcast hosts talked about Yahoo! While Yahoo! is not the number one search engine or search tool of choice for lots of people, Yahoo! has recently purchased several technologies (Flickr for example.) that help place them in the future as the social networking search tool of choice.

The Diggnation hosts talked about how in the not so distant future more and more people are going to want to find information that others have already vetted in some way. For example, perhaps a teen wants to find information on a topic of either personal or academic interest. The teen might do a search on Yahoo! or Google and get a results list that isn’t organized within a relevant framework for the teen looking for the information. In this case what I mean by relevant is that the results have been “reviewed” by others with like interests and needs – family, friends, and so on.

This reminded me of research cited in Mary K. Chelton and Colleen Cool’s book Youth Information Seeking Behavior. In the final chapter on drug related information seeking behaviors of adolescent girls, it is noted that friends are often the first information gathering source for these teenagers.

Within the online search framework that would then mean that teens would want to find resources from within their online social networks. Those are people who they choose to connect with via My Space, Live Journal, 43 Things, and so on. If this is the search wave of today and the near future can librarians jump onto the wave with their websites and library catalogs? What will it take to do that?

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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