The Pew Internet and American Life project has just published a new study that reports 49% of Internet users employ the use of a search engine use on a typical day. The report also found that younger users are more likely to use search engines regularly than older Internet users. What accounts for this jump in search engine use from the 2005 study? The authors surmise that increased access to broadband Internet connections, improved search engine performance on individual websites, and the improved quality of general search engines are the three major factors for the increase in search engine use.
What implications does this study have for us as librarians and educators? More than ever, we need to take the time to show students tips and strategies for effective searching of major search engines; in addition, we need to expose students to alternate search engines that may better fit their searching needs. As we continue to teach our students about website evaluation strategies, we should also make our students aware that search engines yield paid and unpaid results—many users may not realize how this factor can “color” the results they get from a particular search engine.
You may also be interested a more detailed study of Internet use conducted by the Pew foundation in 2005—although it is three years old, the findings are more detailed than the 2008 study and reveal some interesting data about Internet usage.