Internet Searching in Children and Adolescents: A Longitudinal Framework of Youth Search Roles

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The current landscape of literature investigating youth Internet searching focuses mainly on how youth search in classrooms or libraries at a single point in time and highlights problems youth encounter, rather than taking an expansive view of the entire search process. This research uses a framework of searching roles, or patterns of search behavior, to provide a complete picture of how youth behave as searchers in the home environment. The searching behavior of the youth participating in this research is examined by viewing the whole searcher, where search problems are important, but equally important are factors such as affect, context, and the process of search.

This longitudinal study examined participants at ages 7, 9, and 11 in 2008 to 2009 and again at ages 10 to 15 in 2012 to 2013. The searching behaviors displayed during the study's in-home interviews were analyzed according to qualitative methods that evolved throughout the research. Results of the research provide a comprehensive picture of how youth search roles and search behaviors change over time, and through case study analysis of selected participants. The research also provides in-depth description of how individuals change as searchers over time. Additionally provided is a graphic to summarize the main characteristics of search roles in youth searchers. This research concludes with recommendations to adult stakeholders such as teachers, librarians, search engine designers, researchers, and parents to aid in promoting search literacy for youth.