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Getting Connected

Author John Cech
Air Date 11/4/1999

Getting Connected Transcript

At the public library where I work, some of the most challenging questions I answer are from students who are doing school research projects. And more often than not, it seems, teachers are actually requiring students to use the Internet as a component of their research. Ultimately this is a good thing – the Internet is a fabulous resource. But who is helping these kids find good, reliable, current information when they go online? Here’s an example.

Last week a frustrated mom came into the library with three kids in tow. Her 5th grader needed to know how to make candy, her 8th grader was doing a report on a popular rock band, and her high school junior was studying the creation of the universe. Sounds easy? Maybe not. She had already tried using the Internet at home – by typing simple keywords into a popular Internet search engine she learned a few things:

1) Candy is often a scantily clad woman, rather than a confection.

2) Websites about popular topics such as rock bands are often done by fans (not official sources) and may be inaccurate or out of date.

3) Typing in the phrase Big Bang will find you many pages that do not discuss the creation of the universe!

So what is a parent or teacher to do? How do you help your student find quality resources on the Internet?

First: Find out if your library has a website. Many public libraries offer links to homework resources, as well as access to the library’s catalog and magazine databases.

Second: Bookmark a few really great homework sites. The Multnomah County Library has one of the best homework sites online with subject specific homework help for every imaginable topic. Another essential homework site is the Internet Public Library, sponsored by the University of Michigan’s School of Information – the IPL has special areas for both children and teenagers.

Finally: Try search engines that are designed especially for kids. Some of the most popular are Yahooligans, Ask Jeeves for Kids, and LycosZone. These child-friendly engines link only to sites that are appropriate for kids and they also have great entertainment value and visual appeal.

Remember, it’s not enough for kids to use the Internet. We have to teach them to use it well

Posted in Parenting