Access: The Information-Seeking Behavior of Youth in the Digital Environment

The theory of Radical Change, which is based on the digital age principles of interactivity, connectivity, and access, is suggested as a lens to reexamine existing research on youth information-seeking behavior in the digital environment. After a brief review of research meta-analyses, which often point to deficits in youth information-seeking behavior, questions that emerge from this research are suggested. Meta-analyses of gender and information behavior studies find that some recent research disputes former conclusions. Radical Change is applied to an examination of specific facets of contemporary research in order to demonstrate how new perspectives can be gained. This analysis addresses commonalities between information-seeking behavior related to the handheld book with hypertextual qualities and digital materials, the social nature of information seeking, and emerging issues of access. It is noted that the public library as a setting for research has rarely been used, even though its less structured nature might provide insights that do not surface in schools. A look at directions for youth information-seeking behavior research in the future proposes how brain research might shed further light on behavioral observations. Conclusions note existing research and summarize some new points of view and areas for investigation.