Kids prefer to 'Google it' than ask teachers or parents

New research reveals the ‘Google generation’ would turn to the search engine before asking their teacher or parents a question

The majority (54%) of six to 15 year olds admit Google is their first point of call when they have a question, with just 3% asking their teacher when they are in need of an answer. While nearly one in ten (9%) say they would never go to their teacher if they had a question, reveals new research from Birmingham Science City.

Parents also found themselves in second place to Google with just over one quarter (26%) of children saying they would ask their parents first if they had a query. In fact, more than one third (34%) of children do not think their parents could do their homework and more than one in ten (14%) do not think their parents are intelligent.

The research also revealed that a quarter of children do not know what an encyclopaedia is, with one in ten thinking it is something you cook with, travel on, use to catch a ball or to perform an operation.

Launched at the start of National Science and Engineering Week (9-18 March) by Birmingham Science City (www.birminghamsciencecity.co.uk), the results of the survey of 500 children aimed to uncover the information sources of choice for the younger generation and how widespread the use of digital technologies has become in children’s learning.

The majority (91%) of the children asked use Google, with almost half (47%) ‘Googling’ at least five times a day and a fifth (18%) using the search engine ten times or more daily. When Google is not able to help, a fifth of children would then look to Wikipedia for answers.

While the results show that youngsters are clued up on how to search the net, few are as comfortable with more traditional sources of information. Almost half (45%) have never used a print encyclopaedia and nearly a fifth (19%) have never used a print dictionary.

Dr Pam Waddell, Director of Birmingham Science City, commented on the findings:

“With children now growing up in an environment where digital technology is accepted as standard, we wanted to see just how this has affected their approach to research and exploration. It’s not surprising that with answers at the touch of the button, youngsters often Google questions before asking parents, friends or teachers.”

“However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It shows just how commonplace digital technology is for children today and how comfortable they are with using it. Children, no matter what generation they grow up in, have an inquisitive and curious nature, and so the fact they are able to use new technology to explore this is a positive sign for the future.”

The research by Birmingham Science City also found that nearly one third of children (31%) have used an iPad, Kindle or computer to read a book, and that more than one third (36%) do so on a weekly basis. Children also prefer to communicate with their friends digitally, with texting, Facebook and email the most popular choices (47%, 46% and 27% respectively).

Dr Pam Waddell adds:

“Extensive and constructive use of digital technologies by young people is a real opportunity for the West Midlands, which leads the way in digital technology innovation. Many of the new developments being created here will be technologies the next generation take for granted – opening real business opportunities. For instance, PebblePad, an electronic personal learning space, is a cutting-edge example of one of the latest educational digital technologies developed in the West Midlands.”

The survey of 500 six to 15 year olds across the United Kingdom was conducted by Birmingham Science City – a region-wide partnership between the public and private sectors to promote science and technology in the Midlands and beyond.

Visit www.birminghamsciencecity.co.uk for more information.

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