Americans' knowledge of technology matters varies based on age and education

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Americans’ understanding of technology-related matters varies wildly depending on the topic in question, the results of a new Pew Research Center survey show.

While most surveyed could correctly answer questions about website cookies, advertising’s role in social media and phishing scams, there was far less certainty with subject matter involving two-factor authentication, encryption and public figures.

Only three questions were answered correctly by the majority of those surveyed. Just two percent of respondents answered all 10 questions correctly.

As has previously been observed, a respondent’s level of education and age tend to factor into how many questions they got right. For example, those with a high school diploma or less got just three questions right while adults with a college degree answered a median of six questions correctly.

Younger adults also generally scored higher than their older counterparts. Respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 got a median of five questions correct while seniors ages 65 and older scored a median of just three correct answers.

Masthead credit: E-learning by Rawpixel.com

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I'm hoping that the "correctly identify picture of Jack Dorsey" was something more than just, "What is this man's name?". But even so, so what if you can even recognize his face, or what company he runs? I can recognize the Kardashians, but it doesn't mean that a) I care about them or b) that they've actually contributed anything worthwhile to the world (or especially to my personal life). Heck, I can recognize Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, & Stephen Hawking's photos; doesn't mean I know how to write code for iOS/MacOS, Windows, or fully understand advanced relativity concepts. Knowledge of technology & the concepts behind it can be learned without the fanboi reaction of saying, "Yeah, I know that face".
 

TomSEA

TechSpot Chancellor
That's kind of surprising about the two-factor authentication question. You can't log onto any 3rd party website these days without getting prompted for a two-factor authentication setup.
 
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Danny101

TS Guru
I got 7 out 10. Some, I thought were trick questions so I reasonably could have gotten 9 out of 10. I skipped college in favor of trades (thanks to financial literacy), but I'm also a very curious person on many subjects.
 
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Puiu

TS Evangelist
That's kind of surprising about the two-factor authentication question. You can't log onto any 3rd party website these days without getting prompted for a two-factor authentication setup.
It depends on what images were presented to them and the meaning of "true" in the question. It could be easy like you said or it could be a trick question.
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
You find any of this a surprise? Have you ever seen the interviews conducted on the sidewalks of NYC where people cannot name the President, Vice President, Pope or any number of common sense questions, shoot, in one survey people were not able to add three simple numbers without using their phone calculator ..... but don't worry, the Dept of Education is on the job & making everything "OK" .......
 
Just took the quiz, & to be fair I deliberately answered "not sure" on Jack Dorsey's picture...since before I read the article I wouldn't have recognized him from any 1990s Seattle grunge rocker. Got 8 out of 10 (picked the wrong answer to which apps Facebook owns).
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
I'm hoping that the "correctly identify picture of Jack Dorsey" was something more than just, "What is this man's name?". But even so, so what if you can even recognize his face, or what company he runs? I can recognize the Kardashians, but it doesn't mean that a) I care about them or b) that they've actually contributed anything worthwhile to the world (or especially to my personal life). Heck, I can recognize Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, & Stephen Hawking's photos; doesn't mean I know how to write code for iOS/MacOS, Windows, or fully understand advanced relativity concepts. Knowledge of technology & the concepts behind it can be learned without the fanboi reaction of saying, "Yeah, I know that face".
The Jack Dorsey question does seem like an asinine question to me. Personally, I don't know and don't care, either. So I have to wonder whether they were expecting people to answer that question based on how much time they have spent browsing - as if time spent browsing imparts technical understanding and that technical understanding is gained from viewing pictures of people. :facepalm: My wife's father used to spend time browsing, but it sure did not increase his technical understanding.
 
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