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Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Teens lack web confidence
teenagers and the internet
Researchers studied 13 and 14-year-olds on the Internet
Most teenagers lack the basic skills needed to use the internet properly, new research reveals.

A four-year study by experts at Northumbria University in Newcastle, showed some teenagers lose confidence and become frustrated because they cannot find what they want on the web.

Dr Alison Pickard, a lecturer in research methods and user behaviour in the School of Informatics, observed and interviewed 16 pupils aged 13 and 14 from four diverse schools in the north-east of England.

She said she watched youngsters "blame themselves over and over" because they were unable to find information they were looking for.

The research findings are to be given to a major conference on information services in Newcastle later this month.

Dr Pickard, who received funding from the British Academy for her research, called on schools to provide better web training for teenagers.

She said: "Schools are spending a fortune on computer facilities and access to the internet.

If we are opening the floodgates of information we have to provide our young people with suitable survival equipment to help them navigate their way around.
Dr Alison Pickard, University of Northumbria
"But I wanted to look at how well these resources were being used and if they were instrumental in removing barriers to learning.

"While the Internet is an amazing resource, kids need to be empowered with information literacy skills to be able to use the internet properly.''

Dr Pickard added: "I watched teenagers blame themselves over and over because they were unable to find the information they were looking for.

"They thought they were stupid and I watched their confidence gradually being eroded.

"Many of them take on the failings of the system."

Dr Pickard called for schools to encourage peer tutoring and backed a call by the education watchdog Ofsted for qualified chartered librarians to be placed in all secondary schools.

She added: "There is such a wealth of information on the internet and, although things are improving, much of it is still disorganised and unstructured and always will be.

"If we are opening the floodgates of information we have to provide our young people with suitable survival equipment to help them navigate their way around.''




SEE ALSO:
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Web girl nets a hefty bill
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