NEWS13 September 2017

Half of Americans ‘not engaged with news and information’

Media News North America Technology

US - People who trust sources of news and information are outnumbered by those who don't, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.

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The study of how people deal with facts and information broke US adults down into five groups ranging from those most confident and engaged with information, to those most wary.

Thirty-eight per cent of people fell into the “eager and willing” and “confident” groups, but a significantly larger 49% fell under the headings “doubtful” and “wary”. Thirteen per cent are in the middle group, labelled “cautious and curious”.

The results revealed certain demographic patterns, for instance that those with the highest levels of interest in acquiring information, and in improving their skills, are likely to be from ethnic minorities, while those who are interested but have more confidence in their own skills are more likely to be white. Age was also a factor, with those who are doubtful or wary more likely to be older.

The findings have implications for addressing the ‘digital divide’ between those who are literate in today’s communication tools and those who aren’t.

Unfortunately, those who are less interested in learning were also less interested in acquiring the digital skills needed to find and assess information.

When asked what would help them make better decisions, respondents’ top answers were better internet access and more mobile data.

But efforts to help people access information and find trustworthy material face the challenge of a large group “who have lower interest in getting assistance”, said the Pew study.

The research was carried out with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.