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Search Engines and Students: Understanding the Dependency

The human race has traveled a long way. From caves to well-built houses; from merely surviving to survive lavishly; and from respecting nature to exploiting nature—well the list goes on. Among these inventions lies something which is now a crucial part of all of our lives. I won’t expect you to guess because several unnecessary things are also crucial for us now, but presently, I’m talking about search engines.

It’s AIY as in ‘answer this to yourself’ time. When was the last time you looked up a word’s meaning in a dictionary? Or should I ask, do you even possess a dictionary? (If you do then great if you don’t then please get your hands on one) Do you remember using tangible books or research papers for completing an assignment instead of searching on search engines like Google or Yahoo? Have you ever used carbon paper, specifically the blue one, instead of printers?

Can you see the point or the pattern I’m trying to portray? It’s a little sad, isn’t it?

Why am I talking about search engines?

Internet and search engine software is something most of us are familiar with, even those who are suffering and fighting against poverty and an ascetic on the Himalayas. Every day, instead of rubbing our eyes and drinking water, we tend to look for our phones first to check missed texts or headlines or maybe to check if the zombies now rule the world or not.

Can you recall a day where you haven’t used any search engine (let’s say Google)? If your answer is yes, I hope you remember that date because it’s worth remembering; consider it your flex. Google is the most used search engine across the globe; then comes Microsoft Bing then Yahoo and so on. It’s an estimate that Google processes approximately 63,000 queries every second, which tells us that on average, an individual uses the application at least 3 to 4 times a day.

As per the statistics taken in 2014, there were 1.29 billion students globally, which makes 17% of the population worldwide. Most of them use cell phones (the size doesn’t matter), with at least one search engine pre-installed on every device. Presently it’s 2021, the numbers are obviously not the same, and technology is not at the stage where it was in 2014. Out of 63,000 searches, how many searches do you think are proposed by students? There’s no correct answer to this question yet but try to guess (I think at least 85% but not less than that).

The impact

One can agree on missing meals like breakfast or dinner but not on refrained use of search engines, especially students. The constant and unmonitored use of search engines gave birth to new problems to not just students but to every frequent user of this software. Let me point some out for you.

Am I correct?  

My mother has a habit that whenever she is cooking something (like some particular items), she goes through its recipe on Google or YouTube once even though she is familiar with all the ingredients, the process and has cooked it in the past 50 times (a little hyperbole never hurts). Why do you think she does that?

I observed myself searching for a question’s solution even though I already knew the answer. You must’ve done that too, right? As human beings, we seek validation. We desperately want someone or something to confirm that we are right.

With time, search engines made us their prey. The degree of our dependence on search engines made the ‘validation aspect’ of our personalities a little too strong, resulting in self-doubts. Due to COVID-19, as real classes transformed into virtual lectures and online exams, the graph of the degree of dependence on search engines just took a hike.

Once I even saw someone Googling the spelling of ‘spelling’ in a cyber café. That’s the level of trust we have in ourselves nowadays.

Shortcuts

There’s nothing wrong with taking shortcuts. But when the proportion between shortcuts and long cuts becomes highly disproportionate (several shortcuts compared to 2-3 long cuts), that’s probably the time you need to start worrying.

Researches of search engine dependency

Several researchers published papers on this topic that is worth reading. The angle differs in each research paper, making all of them enlightening and something that makes one wonder.

One research paper by Sara Salehi, Jia Tina Du & Helen Ashman ponders over this dependency of students on search engines. A detailed study was published in 2018. Do go through it with the help of a search engine!

Conclusion

Search engines made our lives a lot easier like it was supposed to do. The main motto of inventions is to make humans comfortable. But slipping or not slipping into that comfort valley is something that will always be under your control. It’s time for a short search engine detox, don’t you agree? Hit us with your comments below!

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