More than 80 percent of American adults say they are confident in their ability to use the Internet and other communication devices to keep up with information, according to the results of a new Pew Research Center survey.
Released last week, the report is based on an April 2016 survey of 1,520 adults conducted by the Pew Research Center.
In addition, the survey reports that only 20 percent of adults feel overloaded by information, a decline from the 27 percent who felt overloaded ten years ago.
The survey measured how Americans cope with information in their daily lives and how they feel about the amount of information they have available to them.
Report findings suggest that information overload is situational. Under specific situations, for example, when dealing with a government agency, people feel they are expected to do a lot of information gathering.
The report is based on phone interviews conducted on landline and cellphones from March 7, 2016 through April 4, 2016 and made possible by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Key takeaways from the report include:
- 77 percent of American adults say they like having access to a lot of information, while 20 percent say they feel overloaded
- 25 percent of people in households whose annual income is $30,000 or less are somewhat more likely to say they feel overloaded by information, compared to only 15 percent of people living in households with annual incomes of $75,000 or more
- While people overall feel confident dealing with information, 46 percent say that institutions (banks, schools, government agencies) expect them to do too much information gathering in order to work with them
- 67 percent of American adults say information simplifies their lives, while 27 percent say the amount of information makes their lives seem more complex
- For adults with a high school degree or less, 45 percent feel stressed about the information they have to follow
- Adults feel they can handle information demands on their own terms, but feel stressed when institutions require them to gather information
- 39 percent of those surveyed had three pathways of access to information: broadband access, smartphones, and tablets. Of those who had access to all three, 84 percent felt less overwhelmed by the amount of information
- Of the people surveyed with no access to the three methods of access, 37 percent were more likely to feel information overload. Fifty percent say have sometimes have difficulty finding information and 47 percent feel stressed about the information they have to keep track of.
- 76 percent of adults with access to the three pathways to information searched for community news and information compared to 48 percent with no access
What I Learned
I admit, I was a bit surprised by some of the report findings. I expected to learn that people with multiple pathways to information would report feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information.
That could be because I work closely with other web professionals.
And they tell me daily that they’re barely keeping up with information.
I was fascinated to review the active information searcher graph in the report; it clearly showed that those with access to the three pathways (broadband, smartphone, and tablet computers) searched for more information than those with no or little access.
For more findings, read the report summary with more information and graphs on American adults’ views on information overload.