The present generation of students has had a tremendous amount of new age facilities. This has assisted them in matters not only specific to course related material, but also in better understanding of the overall environment. The Internet facility, with technology dishing out new age Wireless networks and routers every fortnight, is one such assistance which has proved to be extremely helpful.
This may give an impression that the new generation of students would be web savvy; however this is not the case. According to a study published in the International Journal of Communication, University students have a substantial trust in Internet search engines. The same generation who has enabled the social networking sites, the iPods and cell phones make a killing in the market, is apparently not that web-competent. Students seem to have blind faith and trust in Google as their singular source for web search.
Further findings suggested a remarkable fact. Students trust the Google search engine so much that they would click only on those links which appear on the top of the resulting search page. This would be irrespective of the credentials of the website, which proves students believe more in the search engine than a particular web page as the ultimate source of information. Completing assigned tasks seems to be their only priority and if they don’t use Google, then students lean on other brand name search engines and websites to look for sufficient information. Apart from Google, the other top research engines included Yahoo, Wikipedia, MapQuest, AOL, Microsoft and Facebook.
The above conclusions were drawn after students in the study were given information seeking assignments. When they finished each assignment, they were videotaped. It was found that the University students’ adeptness at using the Internet for research purposes had nothing to do with the fact that they have grown up with the Internet. In theUniversity of Illinois, Chicago, 102 students were sampled. More than a quarter of them told the researches that they had clicked on a website because it was at the top of the search list. In some cases, the students said that the search engine was more trustworthy than the particular website from which the information was gathered.
In one instance, a Social Science student was asked about the website from where she had got the needed information. She replied that she didn’t know and it was the first thing that came up! Only about 10 per cent of participants made any remarks about the credentials about the site’s author while completing tasks. But even among these respondents, none made any attempt to verify the qualification or identification of the authors. However, students involved in data research cannot be held solely responsible for lack of web incompetency. Search engines like Google don’t often rank websites on the basis of their credibility. In cases like these, it is a social responsibility on their part and they must recognize the level of trust they have garnered from users all over the world.