Are we better informed with the Internet?

By: Scott Stein, VP of Client Relations, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that 87 percent of online adults believe the Internet and cell phones have improved their ability to learn new things. As someone who spends a fair amount of time online, I don’t think that’s a real surprise. But some of the survey findings stand out.
The survey broke areas of information into several categories. Internet users say digital technology has made them better informed than five years ago, in areas including products/services to buy (81 percent), national and international news (75 percent and 74 percent, respectively) and pop culture (72 percent).
It’s interesting that two-thirds of the respondents say they were better informed about their friends and 60 percent say they’re better informed about family. Given the number of photos of holiday celebrations and other events involving family and friends in recent weeks, I probably should not be surprised by those results.
Like many people, I do occasionally feel the need to dial back on online activities. The Pew survey found that 26 percent of us feel overloaded by having so much information available and pushed to us. Then again, I went right to the Internet during the holidays to check on the times of an event in the community and to make a reservation. And when it comes time to travel, I’m happy to have the latest weather and traffic information right at my fingertips.
One other aspect of the survey caught my attention. Internet users under the age of 30 are less likely to believe the Internet is making average Americans or students better informed and are more likely to say the Internet has had no real impact. Maybe it’s just that they don’t realize that information wasn’t always available right in our pockets.   
What do you think? Are you better informed with the Internet?