How Teens Do Research in the Digital World

by Kristen PurcellLee Rainie, Alan Heaps, Judy Buchanan, Linda Friedrich, Amanda Jacklin, Clara Chen, Kathryn Zickuhr
Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project


The teachers who instruct the most advanced American secondary school students render mixed verdicts about students’ research habits and the impact of technology on their studies.

Some 77% of advanced placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers surveyed say that the internet and digital search tools have had a “mostly positive” impact on their students’ research work. But 87% say these technologies are creating an “easily distracted generation with short attention spans” and 64% say today’s digital technologies “do more to distract students than to help them academically.”

According to this survey of teachers, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in collaboration with the College Board and the National Writing Project, the internet has opened up a vast world of information for today’s students, yet students’ digital literacy skills have yet to catch up:

Virtually all (99%) AP and NWP teachers in this study agree with the notion that “the internet enables students to access a wider range of resources than would otherwise be available,” and 65% agree that “the internet makes today’s students more self-sufficient researchers.”
At the same time, 76% of teachers surveyed “strongly agree” with the assertion that internet search engines have conditioned students to expect to be able to find information quickly and easily.
Large majorities also agree with the notion that the amount of information available online today is overwhelming to most students (83%) and that today’s digital technologies discourage students from using a wide range of sources when conducting research (71%).
Fewer teachers, but still a majority of this sample (60%), agree with the assertion that today’s technologies make it harder for students to find credible sources of information.
Given these concerns, it is not surprising that 47% of these teachers strongly agree and another 44% somewhat believe that courses and content focusing on digital literacy should be incorporated into every school’s curriculum.

ABOUT THE SURVEY Seguir leyendo “How Teens Do Research in the Digital World”

Internet nos hace más inteligentes…pero también más superficiales

En el debate sobre si Internet nos está haciendo más o menos inteligentes podemos hablar de dos grandes escuelas: una estaría representada por el influyente Nicholas Carr, cuyo libro‘Superficiales’ (2011) introdujo en el debate un argumento de corte tecnosuspicaz: “Internet (más exactamente Google) nos vuelve superficiales porque picoteamos información en lugar de profundizar en ella, algo que, dice Carr, es inherente a los libros.

Al otro lado de la trinchera se sitúa el divulgador Steven Johnson, especialista en sistemas complejos, que defiende en ‘Cultura basura, celebros privilegiados’ (2011) que “los medios de masas nos están volviendo más inteligentes porque están incrementando progresivamente su complejidad”. Por tanto, Internet, pero también la TV, están ayudándonos a que seamos –individualmente y como especie- cada vez más inteligentes.

¿Y el resto de la inteligentzia, qué opina de este asunto? Pues está igual de dividida, aunque ligeramente inclinada hacia la opción que defiende Johnson: una encuesta realizada entre 1.021 expertos tecnológicos concluyó que el 55% de ellos considera que Internet ha tenido un efecto positivo en las mentes de los menores de 35 años, estimulando su capacidad multitarea y potenciando la capacidad para encontrar rápidamente información relevante online. Seguir leyendo “Internet nos hace más inteligentes…pero también más superficiales”

Where’s It Hurt? After You Search For A Symptom, New Google Health Search Results Suggest Causes


Roughly 100 million people in the US search for health information on a monthly basis, according to 2011 comScore data. Google has seen these queries up close and recently concluded that it doesn’t do a great job of servicing them. The company is thus introducing improved results that shorten the time from symptom-related search to discovery of potential medical causes and conditions.

Google Chief Health Strategist Roni Zeiger, MD, says the company sees users search on health symptoms and then almost immediately turn around and search for conditions they discovered in those initial search results. As a consequence Google is now going to “compress” that two or three-step process into one. Zeiger explains in a blog post this morning announcing the new symptom-related search results:

To make the process easier, now when you search for a symptom or set of symptoms, you’ll often see a list of possibly related health conditions that you can use to refine your search. The list is generated by our algorithms that analyze data from pages across the web and surface the health conditions that appear to be related to your search.

Below are a couple of “before and after” examples for “headache” and “trouble breathing and tired” to illustrate the change. The “after” screenshots were provided by Google.

Seguir leyendo “Where’s It Hurt? After You Search For A Symptom, New Google Health Search Results Suggest Causes”

The tone of life on social networking sites

by Lee Rainie, Amanda Lenhart, Aaron Smith


The overall social and emotional climate of social networking sites (SNS) is a very positive one where adult users get personal rewards and satisfactions at far higher levels than they encounter anti-social people or have ill consequences from their encounters. A nationally representative phone survey of American adults finds that:

  • 85% of SNS-using adults say that their experience on the sites is that people are mostly kind, compared with 5% who say people they observe on the sites are mostly unkind and another 5% who say their answer depends on the situation.
  • 68% of SNS users said they had an experience that made them feel good about themselves.
  • 61% had experiences that made them feel closer to another person. (Many said they had both experiences.)
  • 39% of SNS-using adults say they frequently see acts of generosity by other SNS users and another 36% say they sometimes see others behaving generously and helpfully. By comparison, 18% of SNS-using adults say they see helpful behavior “only once in a while” and 5% say they never see generosity exhibited by others on social networking sites…. Seguir leyendo “The tone of life on social networking sites”

Cell phones, how are adults using mobile phones?? [PDF download link]

Chargepod is a 6-way charging device that allo...
By Todd Ogasawara

What Do People Who Send 200+ Text Messages & 30+ Voice Calls Per Day Have to Say?

The Pew Internet and American Life Project released another report of interest to gadget fans.

Cell phones and American adults (available online & PDF download) turned Pew’s numberes into a series of easy to understand pie charts and bar graphs.

How Are Adults Using Mobile Phones?

Some interesting items that pop out of the report and graphics?

– 18% of people 18 to 24 years old send more than 200 text messages per day

– This heavy texting (200+ per day) drops to 3% for people 25 to 29 years old

– Heavy text users do not text exclusively. In fact, they also make a lot of voice calls. 26% of heavy text messegers make 31 or more voice calls per day

What is it these people text and say in all of these messages every day?

Older Adults Nearly Double Social Media Presence [STATS]

A new study from Pew Internet found that between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking site usage grew 88% among Internet users aged 55-64, and the 65 and older group’s social networking presence grew 100% in the same time frame.

Young people still dominate social networks like Facebook (Facebook), but their usage only grew 13% during the year covered by Pew’s report. Older adults are catching up at an incredibly quick pace, though it remains to be seen whether they will pass the youth or hit a ceiling at or below the usage levels reported by young adults and teens. Seguir leyendo “Older Adults Nearly Double Social Media Presence [STATS]”