Old dogs outsurf young dogs

Adults are better than teen-agers at surfing the Internet, a (rather small) survey found.

In the study, 38 teens were assigned tasks at 23 Web sites, operated by Apple, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble and other companies and organizations.

At the Web site of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, teens were asked to make an appointment for a driving permit. At MTV.com, the challenge was to discover when Norah Jones would be in concert in the Golden State.

The teens completed such tasks 55% of the time, compared with 66% of adults in a previous study.

. . . Immaturity and poor reading skills partly explained the youngsters’ lackluster performance, the study concluded. So did the teens’ weak research skills and unwillingness to tough it out when a site posed design obstacles.

Score one for the grown-ups.

About Joanne


  1. Richard Brandshaft says:

    Actually, it’s score one for — big surprise — innumerate journalists.

    The story doesn’t say how many adults were in the previous survey. Assume the number is huge — actually, that really would be a big surprise — so the .66 is figure is very precisely known. Ask yourself: if teens were as good as adults, what are the chances that only 21 or fewer teens (55% of 38 is 20.9) were able to complete the task. The answer is 0.11. Meaning: if teens are as good as adults, there is about one chance in 9 they would have done so poorly or worse by chance.

    Now what did I mean by “huge”? Well, if there were only 100 adults in the previous survey, and teens are the same as adults, the chances of getting that much difference between the teen and adult results by sheer chance is about 3/4. That’s counter-intuitive enough to require further explanation.

    The fact is, there is a lot more blur — “confidence intervals” to techies — in surveys involving 100 or less people than is generally realized. Suppose 50% of people have some characteristic. If you survey 100 people and get honest answers:
    You will be off by 10% or more about 1 time in 28.
    By 8% more than 1 time in 12.
    By 5% more than 1 time in 4.

    The same story also listed things teens like and dislike about web sites. Most all fit me. I am 63.

  2. Yaaah! for us Old Dogs! Arf! Arf!

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Nya! Nya! Nya!

  4. Warren Buffett once remarked that you can’t teach a new dog old tricks. So I guess there must be some old tricks involve in Internet use….


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