Feeling overwhelmed by too much information? What else is new? The amount of digital data available on the Web every day reaches records of mind-boggling proportions—now more than a zettabyte (1021 bytes) and presumably accumulating at an ever-increasing rate, estimated at 30-percent growth per year from 1999 to 2002.
But such figures—often presented as evidence of unprecedented and stress-inducing overload—don’t mean much. After all, it takes only one or two pages of Google hits to overwhelm the average reader. Does it really matter whether there are hundreds or thousands more pages after those?
More important, information overload was experienced long before the appearance of today’s digital gadgets. Complaints about “too many books” echo across the centuries, from when books were papyrus rolls, parchment manuscripts, or hand printed.
It always bothers me when people talk about how information is overloading children today. It just seems like adults projecting their own anxiety onto children. Children have no idea that there is “more” information now, their context is the present. They aren’t overloaded any more than our generation was overloaded the first time we walked into a library. No one ran out screaming “I’ll never read them all!!!”
That’s not to say that children don’t need guidance. But let’s leave our adult neuroses at the door when teaching children about the riches of the Internet.