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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The authors would like to thank the National Library of Medicine for providing the funding that makes the HackHealth program possible. The authors would also like to thank all of the school librarians and tweens with whom we work in the hopes of improving the future overall health of our society. The authors would like to thank the librarians who worked with us in this project. Our humble gratitude to the tweens we worked with and their parents who consented to their participation in HackHealth. Special thanks to Dr June Ahn who provided feedback on the paper, and Faith Ambrosini who assisted the team in data collection and formatting. This material is based upon work supported by the National Library of Medicine. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Library of Medicine.
Subramaniam, M., Taylor, N.G., 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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