Youth Information-Seeking Behavior and Online Government Information: Tweens’ Perceptions of US Federal Government Websites

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Information literacy, Adolescents, Children (age groups), Information-seeking behaviour, Electronic government, Digital government

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to focus on middle-school-aged young people’s information-seeking behavior and the knowledge and perceptions they have of and about federal government websites.

Design/methodology/approach: The case study included 37 youth across four middle schools in the mid-Atlantic USA who all participated in a research-focused after-school program. During these sessions, they participated in several data collection activities, including an interview, a survey, a word association activity, an evaluation of the homepage of a government website, and card-sorting. Using conventional, directed, and summative content analysis techniques, the narratives from each data collection activity were coded using in vivo and theory-based terms.

Findings: The study finds that the majority of participants viewed government websites favorably, but were frequently unsure of what government websites are or who is responsible for their creation. Perhaps more significantly, participants’ views of information-related policies frequently were raised during discussions about government websites. The perceptions reflected the youth information-seeking behaviors and information literacy gaps.

Originality/value: Overall, these findings shed light on the opinions of an understudied population in e-government research and inform both policy makers and educators on how to best disseminate government information to youth.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Documentation, v. 74, issue 3, p. 509-525