Lee Rainie

The Internet and the Pandemic

Results from a new survey of US adults reveal the extent to which people’s use of the internet has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, their views about how helpful technology has been for them and the struggles some have faced. The vast majority of adults (90%) say the internet has been at least important to them personally during the pandemic, the survey finds. The share who say it has been essential – 58% – is up slightly from 53% in April 2020.

How Americans Have Used — and Struggled With — the Internet During the Pandemic

Pew Research Center released a sweeping report looking at how Americans have used the internet in the pandemic, how reliant they were on digital tools, and some of the struggles they have had as they tried to conduct many of the work-related, educational, social and community activities of their lives online. The headlines from the survey included:

Experts Say the ‘New Normal’ in 2025 Will Be Far More Tech-Driven, Presenting More Big Challenges

A new canvassing of experts in technology, communications and social change by Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center. Asked to consider what life will be like in 2025 in the wake of the outbreak of the global pandemic and other crises in 2020, some 915 innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists responded.

53% of Americans Say the Internet Has Been Essential During the COVID-19 Outbreak

A survey conducted in early April finds that roughly half of US adults (53%) say the internet has been essential for them personally during the pandemic and another 34% describe it as “important, but not essential.” The survey finds that a majority of Americans (62%) do not think it is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that all Americans have a high-speed internet connection at home during the COVID-19 outbreak. And a similar share (65%) do not think the federal government should be responsible for ensuring cellphone services to all.

Many Tech Experts Say Digital Disruption Will Hurt Democracy

Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center canvassed technology experts in the summer of 2019 to gain their insights about the potential future effects of people’s use of technology on democracy. Overall, 979 technology innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers, and activists responded  to the following query:

Experts Optimistic About the Next 50 Years of Digital Life

1969 was the year that saw the first host-to-host communication of ARPANET, the early packet-switching network that was the precursor to today’s multibillion-host internet. Heading into the network's 50th anniversary, Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center asked 530 of technology experts how individuals’ lives might be affected by the evolution of the internet over the next 50 years. Some 72% of these respondents say there would be change for the better, 25% say there would be change for the worse, and 3% believe there would be no significant change.

Trust and Distrust in America

Many Americans see declining levels of trust in the country, whether it is their confidence in the federal government and elected officials or their trust of each other, a new Pew Research Center report finds. And most believe that the interplay between the trust issues in the public and the interpersonal sphere has made it harder to solve some of the country’s problems. 

Mobile Connectivity in Emerging Economies

After more than a decade of studying the spread and impact of digital life in the United States, Pew Research Center has intensified its exploration of the impact of online connectivity among populations in emerging economies – where the prospect of swift and encompassing cultural change propelled by digital devices might be even more dramatic than the effects felt in developed societies.

Facebook Algorithms and Personal Data

How well do Americans understand algorithm-driven classification systems, and how much do they think their lives line up with what gets reported about them?

Stories From Experts About the Impact of Digital Life

Technology experts and scholars have never been at a loss for concerns about the current and future impact of the internet. Over the years of canvassings by Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, many experts have been anxious about the way people’s online activities can undermine truth, foment distrust, jeopardize individuals’ well-being when it comes to physical and emotional health, enable trolls to weaken democracy and community, compromise human agency as algorithms become embedded in more activities, kill privacy, make institutions less secure, open u