Generation Y: Digital natives or just uneducated?

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Australian School Library Association


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


Computing, Health and Science Faculty Office




Combes, B. (2009). ASLA XXI Biennial Conference 2009. Proceedings of ASLA XXI Biennial Conference 2009: Engage, Explore, Celebrate. Perth, WA. Australian School Library Assoc Inc. Conference website available here.


Young people today are often called the digital natives of the 21st century. Indeed, the policy drive by governments and education to place all information and service delivery online assumes that this generation is already tech-savvy and knows how to locate and use the information they find. Is this actually the case or is the idea of a Net Generation a media-driven myth? The idea of a tech-savvy generation of young people has been successfully popularised by the global media, older generations and educators who are currently struggling to come to terms with the emerging information landscape of the 21st century. Well-developed information-seeking skills and the ability to be able to adapt to the evolving information environment will be key skills for citizens in the future. Recent findings from PEW Internet and American Life studies in the US, the JISC Information Behaviour of the 'Researcher of the Future' report and the Educational Testing Service 2006 ICT literacy assessment all indicate that the students from the Y or Net Generation are not as tech-savvy as portrayed by the world's media and large Internet software providers. If this is the case, then assumptions currently being made about the information-seeking behaviour of today's students need to be rectified at the school level to ensure that tomorrow's citizens are not disenfranchised or disempowered as users in a world where governments are increasingly committed to the provision of essential services and information wholly online. This paper discusses major themes that have emerged from an extensive PhD research study on the information-seeking behaviour of the Net Generation or Generation Y.