Most US adults know what phishing scams are and where they occur, what browser cookies do, and that advertising is the largest source of revenue for most social media platforms, a recent Pew Research Center survey aimed at testing American’s digital knowledge has revealed.
But, sadly, it has also shown that most respondents don’t know what https:// means, what the private browsing option does, that WhatsApp and Instagram are owned by Facebook, and can’t identify an example of 2-factor authentication (from offered images).
Other interesting findings
In general, the higher education the respondents have achieved, the higher the number of correctly answered questions. Also, 18- to 29-year-olds are more digitally-savvy than those ages 65 and older.
But only 2% of the pollees answered all 10 questions correctly (though, I would argue, knowing how Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey looks like isn’t really practical digital knowledge).
“It is important to note that while the share of adults who can correctly answer questions about these issues varies across topics, Americans are more likely to express uncertainty about the topic than give inaccurate answers in most cases,” the researchers pointed out.
Personally, I’m inclined to think that the respondents have heard or read about those topics but, for whatever reason, they have trouble understanding and retaining the information, don’t care enough about it to retain it, or have received too many opposing information about it and don’t know which information is correct.
It’s too bad that the researchers didn’t ask follow up questions to discover the reasons behind the “not sure” answers, because I think they would be illuminating – especially when it comes to the net neutrality, private browsing, and HTTPS.
Still, the lack of knowledge regarding security features such as HTTPS and 2FA should be of particular interest for those who are trying to promote the use of these technologies.
Likewise, the fact that most users still don’t know or are unsure what net neutrality is should be a signal to its proponents and advocates to find a better way of getting their point across.