“Americans and Digital Knowledge”
Pew Research Center, October 9, 2019
By Emily A. Vogels and Monica Anderson
“A majority of U.S. adults can answer fewer than half the questions correctly on a digital knowledge quiz, and many struggle with certain cybersecurity and privacy questions.”
A new Pew Research Center survey finds that Americans’ understanding of technology-related issues varies greatly depending on the topic, term or concept. While a majority of U.S. adults can correctly answer questions about phishing scams or website cookies, other items are more challenging. For example, just 28% of adults can identify an example of two-factor authentication – one of the most important ways experts say people can protect their personal information on sensitive accounts. Additionally, about one-quarter of Americans (24%) know that private browsing only hides browser history from other users of that computer, while roughly half (49%) say they are unsure what private browsing does.
About the Authors:
Monica Anderson is associate director of research at Pew Research Center primarily studying internet and technology issues. Much of her recent work has focused on the impact of the digital divide, the role of technology in the lives of teenagers, and activism in the age of social media. She has a master’s degree in media studies from Georgetown University, where her work focused on the intersection of race, politics and media.
Emily A. Vogels is a research associate at Pew Research Center.
- Complete Report (PDF)
- Digital Knowledge Quiz (“Test your knowledge on digital topics and terms by taking our 10-question quiz. Then see how your answers compare with results of a nationally representative poll of 4,272 randomly selected U.S. adults, conducted June 3 to June 17, 2019, using Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel.” Take the quiz and see how you fare.)