Toward a model of the everyday life information needs of urban teenagers, part 1: Theoretical model

Abstract: After a brief literature review of research on ELIS (everyday life information-seeking) and on adolescent information behavior, Agosto and Hughes-Hassell (2006) present the results of their qualitative research gathered from twenty-seven urban teenagers.

The transferable theoretical model they glean from this research posits seven areas of self in urban teen development

  1. social,
  2. emotional,
  3. reflective,
  4. physical,
  5. creative,
  6. cognitive, and
  7. sexual –

that are closely tied to twenty-eight specific information needs topics. The authors claim that this model clearly shows that “the essence of urban teens’ ELIS is gathering and processing of information to facilitate the multi-faceted teen-to-adult maturation process.”

They offer “a theoretical and empirical model of the everyday life information needs of urban teenagers” and seek to demonstrate “the necessity of tying youth information-seeking research to developmental theory.”


I was fascinated by the order of perceived accessibility of information noted by Agosto and Hughes-Hassell (2006) in ELIS research:

  1. intimate personal networks,
  2. wider personal networks,
  3. mass media, and
  4. institutional resources.

This can and should inform the ways in which we teach information literacy and the types of resources we recommend. I suspect that the typology worked out for urban teens regarding people, communication media, media sources, and topics would also be helpful in formulating information literacy strategies for a broader audience (though, obviously, some of the topics and specific resources would differ).  Most importantly, though, the seven areas of self should be addressed, as possible, in the design of information systems whose goal is to meet the everyday use needs of individuals (which are probably driven by these aspects of self). It is not only for teens that we need services which “support the entire person”, but also for other customer groups.

Agosto, Denise E., & Hughes-Hassell, Sandra (2006). Toward a model of the everyday life information needs of urban teenagers, part 1: Theoretical model. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 57(10), 1394-1403. Retrieved September 13, 2008, from EBSCOHost-Academic Search Complete.