Google generation: myths and reality
It is obvious that the target group of youth organizations is young people. For every youth NGO it is contextualized and very concrete group: young migrantes, local youth, young people with fewer opportunities etc. All of them are very diverse and have different needs. But there is one thing in common that they share: they were born in digital era. It means that they developed in media-interactive culture, they use the Internet since a young age and they are generally comfortable with interacting on social media. In different informational sources young people are called as Google generation, digital natives or Generation Z.
If we, youth workers, want to approach our target group, we should understand them very well and to take into account their digital childhood, abilities and interests.
One of the first researches about the Google generation was published in 2008 by London´s Global University (UCL). The aim of the research was to find out if there was something “qualitatively different” about this new generation. In this research you can find the reflection on the myths about Google generation. Three of them you can find here.
Myth 1: They (Google generation) prefer visual information over text.
According the data it is totally true. Young people look for visual content, it is more attractive and motivating for them.
Myth 2: They are the “cut-and-paste” generation.
This statement is true. The research data shows that plagiarism is a big issue among young users of Internet. “Cut-and-paste” instead of create. According Prof. David Nicholas, Head of UCL Information Studies, “young people don’t understand how to evaluate information that leads to development of ‘pick and mix’ mentality”.
Myth 3: They are expert searchers.
This is a dangerous myth as research data shows. Digital literacies and information literacies do not go hand in hand. Young users of Internet don't have developed skills how to search the information. In most cases their search is just surfing on the Internet that is not the same thing.
Mentioned characteristics of Google generation can lead us to the reflection on how we meet them in the youth work.
- Do we use enough visual materials like pictures, infographics, video etc. in order to attract young people and be interesting for them?
- Do we provides young people with the opportunities to learn how to deal with information (to search, to analyze), to be critical and to create new sorts of information avoiding “cut-and-paste” behaviour?
- Are we conscious about our behaviour in online reality?