Children of the Net: An Empirical Exploration into the Evaluation of Internet Content

By Eastin, Matthew S.; Yang, Mong-Shan et al. | Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, June 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Children of the Net: An Empirical Exploration into the Evaluation of Internet Content

Eastin, Matthew S., Yang, Mong-Shan, Nathanson, Amy I., Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

Throughout the last decade a primary concern raised by users and providers of Internet content was information credibility. Because the Internet has no government or ethical regulations controlling the majority of its available content, credible online sources are hard to distinguish from less credible sources (Andie, 1997; Eastin, 2001; Fogg, Marshall, Laraki, et al., 2001). A recent report by the Pew Research Center (2004) indicates that 44% of Internet users have created content for the Internet, and only a small portion of them update their content on a regular basis. Moreover, without knowing the exact URL of a needed site, the amount of information offered through keyword searches can make finding a predetermined site difficult as well as increase the likelihood of encountering sites containing false information (Large, Beheshti, & Rahman, 2002). Although filtering software can help eliminate unwanted indecent content, it cannot identify irrelevant and dishonest content.

The challenge of identifying credible information on the Internet should be greater among young users. Children are less knowledgeable about the real world than are adults; as a result, they cannot evaluate the legitimacy of most Internet content by comparing the information to their own experiences. In addition, children cannot easily evaluate multiple pieces of information at once and may get distracted by extraneous information (Dorr, 1986). Although research assessing how and why children seek and evaluate online information has progressed (Valkenburg & Soeters, 2001), the majority is anecdotal. Subsequently, understanding of Internet use as it pertains to children is underdeveloped given the importance it plays in today's digital environment (Livingstone, 2003).

This study explored whether children's perceptions and recall of online information are influenced by the explicit presence of a Web page author, the dynamic presentation of information, and the presence of advertising. The results of this study provide needed baseline data regarding the effects that source presence, dynamic site design, and online advertising have on children.

Evaluating Online Information

Lang's (2000) limited capacity model (LCM) presents a theoretical framework from which researchers can understand how multiple information objects are processed inside a mediated environment. This information processing model was developed from years of research on information processing in cognitive psychology (Eysenck, 1993; Lachman, Lachman, & Butterfield, 1979) as well as several empirical studies conducted by Lang and colleagues (Lang, 1995; Lang & Basil, 1998). Further, although originally designed to examine how television images are processed, it has recently been

applied to online content (Diao & Sundar, 2004; Lang, Borse, Wise, & David, 2002; Sundar, 2000). Thus, although it stands as a model of information processing, its development benefited from years of previous research on how humans perceive, store, and access information. (1) The LCM states that

   a person's ability to process information is limited. Processing
   messages requires mental resources, and people have a limited (and
   perhaps fixed) pool of mental resources. You can think about one
   thing, or two, or maybe even seven, at the same time, but eventually
   all your resources are being used, and the system cannot think yet
   another thing without letting a previous thought go. (p. 47)

The LCM suggests that encoding, storage, and retrieval are all engaged when evaluating mediated information. The encoding process determines what message information will be converted into mental representation. How and what is converted can be controlled or automatic. Controlled encoding requires users to be drawn to content for preset reasons (e.g., goals, external direction), whereas automatic encoding occurs when information attracts a user's attention without external prompting.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Children of the Net: An Empirical Exploration into the Evaluation of Internet Content


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?