As simple as that?: tween credibility assessment in a complex online world

Mega Subramaniam (College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)
Natalie Greene Taylor (College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)
Beth St. Jean (College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)
Rebecca Follman (College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)
Christie Kodama (College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)
Dana Casciotti (U.S. National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Publication date: 11 May 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on disadvantaged tweens’ (ages 11 through 13) strategies for making predictive and evaluative judgments of the credibility of health information online. More specifically, this paper identifies the features of Google search results pages and web sites that signal credibility (or lack thereof) to this population and the reasons behind their perceptions.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors employed an ethnographic approach (using various types of data collection methods) targeted to generate in-depth descriptions of tweens making predictive and evaluative judgments of credibility, focussing on the ways in which these tweens naturally assess the credibility of online information.

Findings

The research has yielded novel findings concerning the types of factors that influence disadvantaged tweens’ credibility assessment strategies, such as limited English-language vocabularies, lack of familiarity with perhaps otherwise well-known sources, and forced reliance on (and/or general preference for) non-textual modalities, such as audio and video.

Practical implications

The findings indicate a need for implementing digital literacy programs in a naturalized setting, building on tweens’ existing heuristics and thereby resulting in strategies that are simultaneously compatible with their natural inclinations within the online environment and likely to consistently lead them to accurate credibility-related judgments.

Originality/value

This study provides novel insights into how disadvantaged tweens interact with online health information in a natural context, and offers invaluable information regarding the ways in which credibility assessment processes should be facilitated within formal or informal digital literacy programs.

Keywords

Citation

Subramaniam, M., Taylor, N., St. Jean, B., Follman, R., Kodama, C. and Casciotti, D. (2015), "As simple as that?: tween credibility assessment in a complex online world", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 71 No. 3, pp. 550-571. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-03-2014-0049

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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