When I was at school our first port of call for homework and school project research were the heavy, gold embossed volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica which decorated the shelves in my father’s study. Not so now, since children have such wide access to a wealth of information at their finger-tips via the internet.
Here are a few tips to pass on to your teenager to advise on how to use the internet effectively for research.
Establish rules for browsing which should be discussed and keep an eye on what they are up to. Ideally put the computer in a central location or if they’re using a laptop in their room, insist the door stays open and pop in regularly.
Encourage them to vet the author by looking into experience and level of expertise via their website. Are they a recognized, reputable or credible source of information and hence can their opinion be trusted?
Ask yourself, is the opinion one-sided? Researching both points of view and both sides of the argument is critical to forming a balanced view, once in possession of all the facts and several different opinions.
The internet has the huge advantage of making it possible to research information, opinions and ideas globally. However it’s important to be aware of where the site you’re looking at originates to truly understand the background to the information source.
Be sure to select search keywords and phrases carefully. The closer they are to your specific topic of interest or question, the more likely you are to find what you’re looking for. Getting the keywords wrong may mean you become bogged down with heaps of irrelevant information.
Look beyond page one of Google search results and be wary of sponsored links to boost posts for commercial reasons.
Remember that Google is not the only search engine. Using others will bring up different results.
Beware of plagiarism and respect copyright. Information found on websites should not be reproduced word for word through use of copy and paste. Always give credit to research resources.
We advise families from the UK and all over the world, helping them to make the right education choices at the right time.