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Kids May Know Everything, but Parents are More Web Savvy Study finds

This is actually old news, but the number of times that I heard people at the ForumOne Online Community Unconference refer to younger people as being more gifted in using technology reminded me that I hadn't blogged about a study I heard about in the news over two years ago.

In this Nielsen study, they found that teenagers were less successful at completing given tasks on a set of websites that they were asked to visit. It took them longer and they failed to complete the task more often than the parental group.

Teens were found to have poor reading skills, unsophisticated research strategies and a "dramatically" lower patience level, according to the study.

I didn't get my hands on the full study and I have no idea how rigorous its scientific design was, but nonetheless, it's a good foil for conversation. It doesn't take a psychologist to understand that a person's level of confidence does not have a direct correlation with their actual ability to perform a skill. I also remember another study that pitted kids vs. parents in performing tasks in Photoshop that came to the same conclusion as the Nielsen study mentioned above. If you know of which study I'm trying to recall, please comment or send me an email.

My socialwave.net project has given me a lot of anecdotal evidence to present to this discussion. Over the course of trying to bring social networking to the unconverted in my neighborhood and my region, I've given tutorials and demos to adults of all ages. The only people who were hopeless were the ones who had some other mental block over computers that were not related to their capacity to learn. One had decided that the Internet was evil and that I was a bad person for trying to get the unconverted to try it. Another was convinced that all of her personal data would instantly get siphoned up by criminals the second she plugged in her modem. Characters who exhibited these sorts of phobias did tend to be older, but I also met one person in her 20's who had a severe distrust of technology.

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