12-15 year olds are increasingly trusting of information they find online according to a new report from UK Communications Regulator Ofcom, and “digital natives still need help to develop the know-how they need to navigate the online world”.

We have prepared a quick summary of some of the key points – see below. Click here for further information, and to download the full Ofcom Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report (November 2015).

Internet use in general, and access at home, has increased substantially

  • 12-15 years olds spent an average of 18.9 hours per week using the internet in 2015 (up from 8 hours in 2005).
  • 96% of 12-15 year olds now have access to the internet at home, and 35% are able to access the internet in their bedroom.

12-15 years olds are “less likely than in 2014 to be displaying the level of due caution that is desirable”

  • 14% think that various kinds of online information are “always true” (up from 8% in 2014).
  • 17% turn to Google first for accurate and true online information about “serious things that are going on in the world”
  • Only 31% are able to identify advertising displayed in online search results.
  • 19% said that they had seen something online that was worrying, nasty or offensive in the past year.

Need for “critical understanding” and digital “know-how”

“‘Critical understanding’ is a way of describing the skills and knowledge children need to understand, question and manage their media environment. This is important if they are to get the benefits it has to offer, and avoid the risks.” Ofcom

“The internet allows children to learn, discover different points of view and stay connected with friends and family,”says James Thickett, Ofcom’s Director of Research. “But these digital natives still need help to develop the know-how they need to navigate the online world.”

Developing digital “know-how”…how librarians are helping

“Trying to embed information literacy and research skills into the curriculum can sometimes feel similar to trying to find the Holy Grail”, says JCS customer Anne Buxton, Information Manager at Northampton High School, “but equipping students with these skills is more vital than ever before.”

“Our starting point was how to use the library effectively, but we have now moved on to more sophisticated analytical skills – for example, how to identify quality information appropriate for a specific information need.”

Find out how Anne is using high quality online subscription resources such as the JSTOR Secondary Schools Collection in her information skills training programmes for students at year seven and above here.

(Please note that a JSTOR collection for Further Education Colleges is also available.)