Young students’ critical information awareness in digital environments
Young students use internet daily, both in school and at home. The curricula for year 1 states that students should learn to critically evaluate information, use search engines on the internet and reach an understanding that every piece of information has a sender/an origin. This project seeks to contribute knowledge of students in the lower grades negotiating the online interface when searching for information in digital environments and what capacities they have for evaluating the trustworthiness of what they find.
As a starting point, a focus group interview study with 7-year-olds in linguistically heterogeneous classrooms (Wennås Brante & Walldén, 2021) have been performed. We explored what they think the internet is and what kind of experiences and linguistic resources they draw upon to express their understanding. Based on thematic and systemic-functional linguistic analysis, the results show that the children mostly express an understanding of the internet as something concrete, such as an app, as something encapsulated in apps or hardware and, more generally, as an enabler for the use of different apps. Students’ connections to using YouTube and games are prevalent, and their understanding of the internet is shaped by experiences of screen interactions when using these apps. On rare occasions, students hesitantly tried to formulate abstract perspectives concerning what the internet is or what it means.
In the next step, we are collaborating with a school librarian to further explore how young students speak of, understand and handle critical information searches. The school is situated in an urban area with linguistically heterogeneous classrooms. A pilot study took place in a year 2 and data is under analysis.