An exploration of information poverty : the early manifestation of information poverty in children

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Information poverty is when individuals/demographic groups are unwilling or unable to access or share information. Information poverty has been recognised as a critical issue and a global challenge but is an understudied research area and children an understudied group. This study sought better understanding of information poverty and explored early manifestations of information poverty in children. As no empirical child information poverty studies existed, this study was exploratory. A literature review was undertaken alongside (in central Scotland) fieldwork with 156 children (6-8) and interviews with 17 parents and 17 teachers. Research questions were: What is information poverty and why does it occur? Do children experience information poverty and if so, why? After reviewing relevant literature, the researcher defined information poverty (as above) and determined that adolescent and adult information poverty can occur due to a lack of access to information, attitudes, behaviour and cultural context. This study's empirical component evidenced children (6-8) experiencing information poverty - having unmet information needs; requiring adult support to obtain information and keeping information secret. Contributory factors to child information poverty were also evidenced: lacking skills, motivation and perseverance to obtain/share information; lacking source access; parents restricting information access; parents/teachers encouraging secrecy. Also evidenced was that not all children experienced information poverty and different factors contributed. Empirical findings supported Childers and Post's (1975) barriers to information needs, searches, acceptance and use and Chatman's (1996) information poverty theories. By evidencing that children (6-8) can experience information poverty this study makes an original contribution to understandings of information poverty, as existing empirical studies have only evidenced adolescents and adults living in impoverished information worlds. This is also the first empirical study to identify contributory factors to child information poverty and to determine that some of the same factors can contribute to child, adolescent and adult information poverty.
Date of Award21 May 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)
SupervisorSteven Buchanan (Supervisor) & Ian Ruthven (Supervisor)

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