The internet has grown from a network of very few privileged users to the current hundreds of millions of users. The information that is found on the internet has grown spontaneously. The reliability of the sources of this information is of great concern to many academicians. It is true that many users, especially young internet users, do not have enough skills in undertaking internet source credibility assessment. The article by Eszter Hargittai et al (2010) brings out this issue and faults on young users and how they are naïve on information credibility assessment. Eszter Hargittai et al (2010) argues that users have the wrong assessment criteria that they use to assess the use of the internet. In my assessment, I believe that it is the curriculum which should be assessed. If information assessment skills were taught while people were young enough, this could be better. With the article stating that young learners are most vulnerable to information assessment poor skills, I take all he blame on curriculum developers. Research skills and literature source teaching is taught while in colleges. Most colleges teach these important skills in advanced years. This should be changed. Information credibility assessment should be integrated early enough in the learning process. This will enable the student to integrate this skill as an important concept that they will use in their learning. From the article, it is clear that young people are the most vulnerable to poor assessment. With the popularity of the internet amongst young people, it is common and expected to have them vulnerable. Information assessment skills are poorly done because these important skills are taught in the advanced years of learning. To have better skills, it should be taught in basic education levels. This will enable learners get this important skill while they are young. It is because internet use is now commonly undertaken by young people in their basic education levels.
The research was undertaken to show the missing aspect of information source credibility assessment amongst internet users. The authors strived to show how the internet users take all information they get to be reliable without having to look at the source and the authors. The research was carried out in a university in the United States where racial mix is considered sufficient. This also served to bring out the aspect of different background n learning. Since there were different backgrounds for the students conducted, it showed that the result can be generalized. The authors made use of quantitative research to find the information required for the study. The university is highly ranked as well balanced in terms of ethnic and racial composition. The students with which the survey was carried on were first years.
The credibility of a website based on the presentability and how appealing it is shown how ignorant the researcher must be. This serves to show that the researchers who use this criteria do not have any other credibility assessment skills. They rely on the appearance of the website. This is some evidence that the research methods had not yet been taught. If the internet user had some research skills, they would have resorted to these skills. Given the behavior of young internet users, they like the aesthetic value of objects and sites. It is no wonder they base their credibility skills and assessment on these aspects. The fact that they base their assessment on the appearance of the website shows that they have no skills on this. This is where the curriculum comes in. Students should be taught on information source credibility assessment at tender ages because they are exposed to the internet at this tender age.
The search engine came as one of the benchmarks that the web users based their assessment. The internet users did not understand the results from the search engines and trusted the websites because of the search engine. The research does not understand the fact that search engines do not assess the website. It is up to the researcher to assess the websites. Students do not check the author of the websites that they get their information. They assume that because they appear on the search engine’s results, then it should be regarded to be credible. Research methods classes, students are taught on how to check the validity of the information they obtain. The author of the article is of paramount importance. The results of the research indicated that most internet users regard some search engines to be reliable sources of information. They did not undertake much assessment on information from these search engines because they believed that what they got from there was credible. Other internet users based their assessment on the presentation of information. They looked at the website where they they obtained information and trusted if it looked presentable. This is the most naïve way of assessing credibility of information. For those who do not have research kills expertise, they base their search on search engines. It is clear that the search engine serves as an important tool in getting information from the internet. What many students do not understand is that search engines do not have credibility assessment of the information they obtain. Perhaps this should be an important point to note when teaching students on information source credibility assessment.
In line with the use of the search engines as credibility benchmarks for most students, I also feel that the research method curriculum should be changed to take into consideration the complex nature of search engines and information sources. Like search engine optimization and the way it is important to marketers, this knowledge should be passed researchers so they understand the value of search engines and how they should evaluate information from these search engines. Emphasis should be based on how to filter the many websites that search engines return. It is the lack of this that has made many researchers not having the internet technical know-how regarding information credibility. Research methods, most students are taught on how to reference and cite an are not taught on how to look for reliable information sources. This is the reason why there is still a lot of ignorance on information assessment credibility. It is because of how they are taught that student do not understand that search engines are just but a means to getting to information sources. Different search engines have different followers because of the references that students make. In the research, most of the students like using Google because they know of people who are using Google. This is a naïve behavior.
A small percentage of students would look at the type of the website they are accessing in order to get information. There are those who prefer using government websites while others prefer university websites. Most students do not understand the differences in these websites. This can be attributed to the lack of understanding and knowledge in this technical field of websites.
In conclusion, it is important to have knowledge on how to assess th credibility of information sources, especially to internet users passed. The curriculum should be changed to integrate this important skill.
Eszter Hargittai et al., "Trust Online: Young Adults' Evaluation of Web Content." International Journal of Communication 4 (2010), 468–494 retrieved on 3 October 2013 from http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/636/423