A digital generation in scrutiny. Children’s ideas about the internet and the online information

  1. Ileana Enesco 1
  2. Carla Sebastián-Enesco 1
  3. Silvia Guerrero 2
  4. Elena Varea 1
  5. Paula Barrios 1
  1. 1 Universidad Complutense de Madrid

    Universidad Complutense de Madrid

    Madrid, España

    ROR 02p0gd045

  2. 2 Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha

    Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha

    Ciudad Real, España

    ROR https://ror.org/05r78ng12

Journal for the Study of Education and Development, Infancia y Aprendizaje

ISSN: 0210-3702 1578-4126

Any de publicació: 2022

Volum: 45

Número: 4

Pàgines: 842-869

Tipus: Article

Altres publicacions en: Journal for the Study of Education and Development, Infancia y Aprendizaje


The internet has become a key environment for children’s learning and leisure at an increasing early age. Yet, little is known about what children understand about the internet. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 111 children aged five to nine to assess their notions about the internet, the authorship of online content and the trustworthiness they attribute to it. Considering the socio-cognitive advances throughout these ages, we expected a significant improvement in children’s concept of the internet. However, the results showed modest age differences, and only in some basic notions (e.g., internet functions). Misconceptions about the internet and naïve ideas about the reliability of its content were present at all ages. Only a very few older children envisaged the risk of finding malicious information online and the need to consult other sources in case of doubt. We discuss the necessity to address children’s misconceptions at least from the beginning of primary school, when most of them are cognitively ready to understand many of the issues addressed in this study, provided they receive guided instruction.

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