Exploring the early manifestation of information poverty in young children



Breslin Davda F & Buchanan S (2024) Exploring the early manifestation of information poverty in young children. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 56 (1), pp. 164-177.

Information poverty is widely recognised as having a negative impact upon peoples’ health and wellbeing, and socioeconomic prosperity; however, whilst an issue of significant societal concern evidenced across a wide variety of adult groups and socioeconomic contexts, no studies have been previously undertaken with children. This appears a significant oversight given that many children across the globe are considered multi-dimensionally poor. This study thus sought to explore the possibility of information poverty amongst children. 156 children (aged 6-8) from five UK primary schools participated in a series of practical exercises exploring their information behaviours, and 34 parents and teachers were interviewed to provide further insights. Finding’s evidence self-protective information behaviours and unmet information needs amongst children aged 6-8; both characteristics of an impoverished information state. Whilst much can be explained in developmental terms (i.e. in relation to child age and emergent literacies), much can also be explained in information poverty terms encompassing issues of both information access and use. Notably, approximately half of our child participants considered themselves to be, in general, unsuccessful information seekers; and contrasts with the views of our adult participants who majority believed that children are, in general, successful information seekers. This paper provides the first evidence of information poverty in young children, and provides further insights into the role of parents in supporting their children’s information needs and shaping their developing information behaviours, with parental mediation of child media use appearing particularly problematic. Enduring inequalities in information access are also highlighted. Beyond call for further global research, a public communication campaign to increase awareness of child information poverty and contributory factors is recommended as an immediate priority.

information behaviour; information poverty; child poverty; child education

Journal of Librarianship and Information Science: Volume 56, Issue 1

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council
Publication date31/03/2024
Publication date online30/11/2022
Date accepted by journal15/09/2022

People (1)


Professor Steven Buchanan

Professor Steven Buchanan

Professor in Comms., Media and Culture, Communications, Media and Culture