Internet Tops Library as Research Source for Students

Nearly three-quarters of the students in middle school and high school (ages 12 to 17) have Internet access, according the Pew Internet & American Life Project and almost all of them use the Internet for school-related research.

The Pew Project’s research found that use of the Internet has become an increasingly important feature of the learning environment for teenagers both inside and outside the classroom. When asked about their most recent major school report, 71 percent of teenagers with Internet access said they relied Internet sources the most in completing the project. That compares to 24 percent who said they relied library sources the most.

The 73 percent of students with Internet access comes to about 17 million children. A survey of 754 youth in the 12 to 17 age bracket who have used the Internet found that 94 percent say they use the Internet for school research and 78 percent say they believe the Internet helps them with schoolwork.

Not only does the vast amount information online 41 percent of online teens say they use email and instant messaging to contact teachers or classmates about schoolwork. Thirty-four percent of online youth have downloaded an online study aid.

“Most online teens see the Internet as a giant homework helper and many use email and instant messaging to get their friends and teachers to help hem when they are stuck on assignments,” said Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. “Those are certainly the main reasons that parents hope their children are online.”

A survey of the teenagers’ parents found that 87 percent believe that the Internet helps students with their schoolwork, 55 percent say the Internet has been a good thing for their children, and 55 percent believe that knowledge of how to use the Internet is essential for children to learn in order to be successful.

The Internet can also make schoolwork a little too easy. About a fifth of online teens (18 percent) say they know of someone who has used the Internet to cheat on a paper or test.

SBC Communications also conducted a study on the Internet’s role in schoolwork, especially the role of high-speed Internet access via DSL, which, not coincidentally, SBC sells. The parents and teachers surveyed agreed that the Internet is an important educational tool. More than half (52 percent) of teachers said that Internet skills are primarily learned at home rather than school, and 80 percent of parents agreed that their children are learning more about the Internet from home use.

As school tools, SBC’s survey found that computers and the Internet rivaled textbooks in importance. Parents ranked computers and textbooks equally as important school tools (77 percent), with the Internet ranking closely behind (66 percent). In comparison, encyclopedia books are yesterday’s news, with only 12 percent of parents indicating that their children used them frequently for school.

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