Many Americans lack basic internet knowledge

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The internet has become a vital part of people’s lives. It enables them to connect with their friends and buy goods and services. However, most Americans’ knowledge of internet basics is lacking, according a survey by Pew Research Center.

“Relatively few internet users are familiar with certain concepts that underpin the internet and other modern technological advances,” said Pew Research Center’s Senior Researcher for the Internet Project, Aaron Smith.

In fact, only 23 per cent of respondents knew that the terms “internet” and “World Wide Web” do not refer to the same thing, while just 34 per cent were aware that the number of transistors that can be installed on a microchip doubles approximately every two years based on Moore’s Law.

Nevertheless, younger Americans have a better grasp of the internet compared to their older counterparts.

“Compared with older Americans, younger internet users are especially likely to know that Facebook originated at Harvard University and that hashtags are commonly used on Twitter,” he explained. They are also familiar with internet jargon such as “wiki”, “captchas” and “advanced search”.

In addition, college graduates showed a high level of internet knowledge. Most of them are aware that Twitter imposes a 140-character limit and that URL is an abbreviation for Uniform Resource Locator.

“Still, there are some elements of the technology world on which even this highly educated group rates poorly,” Smith noted. For example, only 20 per cent of them answered correctly that the World Wide Web is different from the internet.

To test the knowledge of Americans about the internet, Pew administered a 17-question test to more than 1,000 people.


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