Is There A Google Generation?

from the perhaps-not dept

There's something of a belief (at least among some) out there that kids who have "grown up" with Google are somehow better users of search engines and other online tools. They're referred to as "The Google Generation" by some. However, some new research coming out of the UK suggests that the Google Generation isn't quite what many people think. The study looking at how those who have grown up with Google (people born after 1993) do online research shows that they're not any better at using Google than those in other generations. If anything, the research actually suggested that we're all the Google Generation, as the ability to quickly process lots of information is found across generations. Of course, some of this is open to interpretation. The British Library, which conducted the research, claims that the fact that it's now common among all generations to look for quick blurbs of information and move on, suggests a "dumbing down" of society. However, that's not necessarily true. As the author of the article notes, being able to process lots of information quickly, before necessarily drilling down deeper, is an important skill. So, just the fact that people do end up reading more short blurbs or abstracts is hardly evidence that they don't also get the depth of information that they later need. On top of that, it would be surprising if people really thought that those under the age of 15 were better at researching information online. There are multiple tasks involved in research, and doing the search is just part of it. Being able to actually make use of that information and prioritize it is also important -- and it's those skills that younger users are less likely to have developed as well.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: google generation, kids, online research, research
Companies: google


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2008 @ 1:13pm

    How is this news?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 28 Jan 2008 @ 1:13pm

    Tired or that claim

    I am getting pretty tired of everybody claiming that this or that is being "dumbed down" by just about anything. Times are changing and part of that change is affected by technology.
    Just because its not exactly what they are used to they always seem to rush off to the arrogant claim that its being "dumbed down".
    Critical thinking skills are still here, at least for most people, and some things are just sped up by technology.
    As Mike mentioned, it is a skill to discriminate. If Google so happens to make that part of research a little faster, awesome. Doesn't mean its being dumbed down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DalGoda, 28 Jan 2008 @ 1:15pm

    I Googled It!

    Must be true, I saw a short blurb anout this on Google, but failed to read through it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    atomatom, 28 Jan 2008 @ 1:19pm

    "Google generation" doesn't mean people who are good at Googling/technology because they grew up with it. It refers to people who don't know anything else, people who Google because they've never been to a library or don't know how to look things up in an encyclopædia. People who text instead of phoning, instant message instead of writing a letter, chat online instead of hanging out. People who'd feel confused and lost if they lost their connections and their technology. Some families, you turn off the TV and they can't tell their asses from their elbows. The internet is the same thing for kids now. It's what they construct their whole social existence on. It's where half their friends are people they've never actually met. That's what makes them the Google Generation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    atomatom, 28 Jan 2008 @ 1:21pm

    Oh, and I'm not saying it's a bad thing - I'm part of the Google Generation in some ways myself. It's just another kind of civilization, as 'valid' as the change from hunter-gathering to agriculture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    angry dude, 28 Jan 2008 @ 1:45pm

    Idiot's generation

    More like generation of retarded idiots and
    we have a pretty good sample of this generation here on techdirt...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      angry dude, 28 Jan 2008 @ 1:52pm

      Re: Idiot's generation

      More like I'm a faggot. Ignore everything I say because it is irrelevant and I'm just a pseudo-intellectual who likes to get mad at people I don't know because they are smarter than me and make fun of Nietzsche .

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Cixelsid, 30 Jan 2008 @ 8:50am

      Re: Idiot's generation

      "More like generation of retarded idiots and
      we have a pretty good sample of this generation here on techdirt..."

      A sample of one sofar.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Google It!, 28 Jan 2008 @ 1:49pm

    Whats Next Youtube it?

    i thought this site was suppose to be about important news and stuff we care about how is google being a so called generation like Generation X news? how about the myspace generation? or the YouTube Generation why isnt that news?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wolferz (profile), 28 Jan 2008 @ 3:35pm

      Re: Whats Next Youtube it?

      Because those are just trends. They are no more world changing than disco or bell bottoms. Google on the other hand has had a significant impact on the way research is performed and as such has resulted in a number of changes in any area related to research. This has far reaching implications for everything from the military to shopping.

      Considering the depth and scope of the impact Google has had I think a site devoted to tech news would be wise to keep an eye on it and all related info.

      /2 cent

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    MeandDes, 28 Jan 2008 @ 1:50pm

    I hate to point out that boolean search engines using words and phrases have existed for over 25 years, as a researcher in my evil youth do I now count as part of the google generation at 50+.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris, 28 Jan 2008 @ 1:57pm

    I want the two minutes of my life that I spent reading this back.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Cixelsid, 30 Jan 2008 @ 8:53am

      Re:

      "I want the two minutes of my life that I spent reading this back."

      How 'bout next time you don't waste 4 mins typing this stupid comment, you tit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paul, 28 Jan 2008 @ 2:16pm

    I use the Term in School

    I currently use the term in school slightly differnt way, Basicly school has not adjusted to the fact my generation of students can type anything into a search to get its defination, attribuits ect.

    The basic reason for this is the fact that I know what I dont have to memorize now a days, since I have google in my pocket. This makes classes that require memorization the worst offenders of the younger students.

    In a few years as older teachers leave the system and new teachers come in who are use to this, the google generation will change the way schools work and teach people how to use wikis and online tools instead of demanding we use the old way.

    As for using books, why use a book when the same information is included with your online search, If I have to use the print format I can even use google's project of scaning all books in existance and read the book that way if I like. Going to a libary is the last resource I would use today, and usally only required for rair books or material from before the 1900's. In 5-10 years that information might be on google too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    atomatom, 28 Jan 2008 @ 2:21pm

    >Going to a libary is the last resource I would use today, and usally only required for rair books or material from before the 1900's.

    That makes no sense. Google can't give you a free book if it's under copyright, which for some books goes back 70 or 80 years. You can buy books online but the library offers them for free. If you were a university student you'd be laughed out of class for not using a library. No serious publication would print something that references nothing but websites and public domain books.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wolferz (profile), 28 Jan 2008 @ 3:41pm

      Re:

      Yes but unless you are doing a report on a specific book, an author, or printed contemporary literature all information that can be found in books printed since the mid 1900's can be found online.

      In fact a great deal of information is not available in printed form but only online. Granted most such info is rather trivial but if you were doing a book report on the trivialities of modern life you couldn't use books to learn about them as easily.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anne, 28 Jan 2008 @ 2:30pm

    Brave New World

    I am well past the target age of the Google Generation, but I would have to consider myself part of that world, and I also can't imagine a more exciting time to live in a world with such amazing stuff. (I'm closer to 40.) In my short lifetime, I've experienced: rotary to touch tone, answering machines, mobile phones that have gone from rich boy toy to $10 Virgin Mobile disposable phones, personal computers, 300 baud modems to what is now a speed of infinity, 5 14 inch floppy drives and you were a bad ass, with that 10 mhz computer processor (whoa baby), now the same technology is measured in gigabytes and terabytes. Not to mention the local BBS (bulletin board for you wet behind the ears neophytes) communities that morphed into what eventually became the world wide web. I miss the genuine feel of community that exizted. I feel no similar sense of community online today, and I have no online friends, which is the exact opposite of my life fifteen+ years ago, when all of my friends were people I'd met through the local BBS networks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anne, 28 Jan 2008 @ 2:32pm

      What happened to my formatting LOL

      I am well past the target age of the Google Generation, but I would have to consider myself part of that world, and I also can't imagine a more exciting time to live in a world with such amazing stuff. (I'm closer to 40.)


      In my short lifetime, I've experienced: rotary to touch tone, answering machines, mobile phones that have gone from rich boy toy to $10 Virgin Mobile disposable phones, personal computers, 300 baud modems to what is now a speed of infinity, 5 14 inch floppy drives and you were a bad ass, with that 10 mhz computer processor (whoa baby), now the same technology is measured in gigabytes and terabytes.

      Not to mention the local BBS (bulletin board for you wet behind the ears neophytes) communities that morphed into what eventually became the world wide web. I miss the genuine feel of community that exited.

      I feel no similar sense of community online today, and I have no online friends, which is the exact opposite of my life fifteen+ years ago, when all of my friends were people I'd met through the local BBS networks

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Swiss Cheese Monster, 28 Jan 2008 @ 3:06pm

        Re: What happened to my formatting LOL

        Oh yes... the days of Wildcat and Renegade - Xmodem was all the rage for transferring files and anything over 1MB was considered stupid.

        I need to find me some of that infinity speed though. I'm still stuck in the world of 1.5Mbps.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jan 2008 @ 2:33pm

    You dipshits that think that memorizing boring facts is stupid because you can just google it are forgetting one thing. You exercise and train your mind when you do those memorizing tasks. Look at any mind improving program and part of the work is memorizing. It really doesn't matter what you memorize, but the fact that you do it strengthens your mind.

    So go ahead, don't bother memorizing anything and you too can see the benefits of early onset of althizemers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wolferz (profile), 28 Jan 2008 @ 3:55pm

      Re:

      Hmm... I think calling us dipshits for something that, as far as I can tell no one here has claimed to be true, seems just a little rude. Sounds to me like you've got some pent up aggression from an argument you had with some one some where else.

      No one said memorizing is bad and I for one don't avoid memorizing stuff just cause I can Google it. I actually can't Google from my car or a plane. I can't Google from a restaurant unless it offers wi-fi and I happened to carry my laptop for some strange reason. Memorization still has it's uses.

      As for your argument about memorizing boring facts. If the point is to train your brain and improve memorization why not memorize useful information instead. That way you not only improve your memory skills but also gain a great deal of additional knowledge that is useful for something other than playing trivia games with your family once a year at Christmas. I'd say no matter how you slice it memorizing boring facts simply doesn't make sense.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Haywood, 28 Jan 2008 @ 3:04pm

    I am 50+ & am a part of GEN-GOOG

    I remember using web crawlers and BBS. They sucked, but there was nothing better at the time. I like the fact that my ignorance is very temporary now. If I lack some knowledge I need or want, a few clicks and keystrokes, and I'm knowledgeable, not doctorate level, but sufficient for my present need. I see no need for an encyclopedia or even a dictionary, it is all there, up to date, and available for all. What a great time to live! I recently went back to college & earned a degree. I was amazed at how the teachers required everyone to do things like a stone age researcher. Let's get real, why waste valuable learning time doing things in a manner that is likely not to be a part of your actual use of that education. There are things that are only in books, and fine when your path leads there, you should know how. But what % of people actually end up in fields requiring that sort of in depth research?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Doug, 28 Jan 2008 @ 4:04pm

    I sometimes wonder if 'search' is a double-edged sword.

    It provides the power to uncover any tagged piece of information, but by design it also forces the researcher to narrow his focus with every link.

    When I consume information online, I am rarely exposed to new ideas and trains of thought that I once found in printed information.

    Are we saving time, or becoming more and more myopic?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Hoeppner, 28 Jan 2008 @ 4:10pm

    sorting through lots of info is annoying sometimes. If I need a summary of all the sub topics and the sub topics and can search for them right away I use this.

    http://www.quintura.com/

    and yes I'm to lazy to link it, but you're likely lazier and won't copy it to check it out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Hoeppner, 28 Jan 2008 @ 4:18pm

    it wasn't linkitized in preview.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Piper, 28 Jan 2008 @ 5:07pm

    Google

    im 45+ and I hope that Google wins the 700mhz! this can only lead to great things. If Leo Laporte says so --- so do I thblt

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paul, 28 Jan 2008 @ 5:14pm

    Actully I can google anyplace but a plane now

    I currently have a sprint smart phone, I use it when ever I want to use the web from any location, including the middle of class. (I have used this to check up on what a teacher was talking about more then a few times)

    I can aggree, strange books or vary specific material might not be online yet, however most books are online as e-books at this moment, others are forsale as PDFs.

    I argue selective memorization over trying to cram my brain full of everything every time, vary few intro classes will go with this argument but some have. The point is sometimes, people know the word anyway but the textbook defination is not the same as the common use. Othertimes its words the textbook made up because its out of date with the real world.

    I would much rather know how to find out something on the fly and which areas are good to go to any day then be forced to learn a textbooks glossory for the sake of learning it.

    Keep in mind I am on the extreem end of the tech scale, however in 10 years all phones are going to have some kind of smart phone app built in.

    (no I cant spell, get over it)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    FormerUberElite, 29 Jan 2008 @ 6:31am

    I love it.....the computer generation is about to be eclipsed by the google generation.Doesn't it just suck, just when you thought you were the uber techno elite...you are being put out to pasture at the ripe old age of 27.........muhahahahahaha......and guess what,there is more ! Not only are you being put out to pasture, but the newer, smarter, and way more clever NEW techno elite, doesn't owe you ANYTHING for their new found technical prowess. Hehe :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bummer, 1 Feb 2008 @ 10:22am

    googoo

    I grew up with Yahoo, and frankly then, it was human-powered - making the original Yahoo search Web 2.0!
    back then information was hard to get but it took skill to navigate find information.

    the Google generation, pick at a few words and hope that it gets you to some article - and not some overly optimized sales pages.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike, 15 Jul 2008 @ 12:41pm

    Title of the article "Is there a Google Generation?" Not, "There is a Google Generation". Get it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.