One reason the Internet has so quickly become a part of our daily lives is you can do practically everything on it. You can listen to music, play games, send email, chat, shop, and of course, use it to do research and homework.
But how good is the information on the Internet? The information can be excellent. It can be poor. It can be anything in between.
Anyone can put up a site on the Internet. That's one of the great things about the Web. It's also why you have to be careful. There is no editorial review board, no information fact checker, no quality control expert. You have to be your own judge on the quality and validity of the information you receive.
What about when you use a search engine? Here you have to be careful, too. Most search engines use the location and frequency of keywords as the basis for ranking responses to a query. In other words, they don't rank the pages by the quality of information, but primarily by where and how often the words in your query appear. Some search engines give an extra boost to pages that have lots of links to them from other Web pages. Some give extra weight to pages frequently clicked on by people doing similar searches.
Search engines are useful, but they miss a lot of information. Most have access to less than one percent of the content that exists on the Web. Billions of pages are not even considered. New specialized search engines are popping up that focus on specific areas such as news, law, or even shopping. By specializing in a specific area, these search engines answer queries with many pages that traditional search engines would miss.
What can you do to be a savvy Web user? Pay close attention to the source of any information you find on the Web. For instance, for facts on ancient Egypt, a site created by National Geographic will be more reliable than a site put up by someone who's writing about their vacation at the pyramids. Another trick is to not rely on just one source, but use several.