A new Pew Research Center survey finds that Americans’ understanding of technology-related issues varies greatly depending on the topic, term or concept. While a majority of U.S. adults can correctly answer questions about phishing scams or website cookies, other items are more challenging. For example, just 28% of adults can identify an example of two-factor authentication – one of the most important ways experts say people can protect their personal information on sensitive accounts. Additionally, about one-quarter of Americans (24%) know that private browsing only hides browser history from other users of that computer, while roughly half (49%) say they are unsure what private browsing does.
This survey consisted of 10 questions designed to test Americans’ knowledge of a range of digital topics, such as cybersecurity or the business side of social media companies. The median number of correct answers was four. Only 20% of adults answered seven or more questions correctly, and just 2% got all 10 questions correct.
As was true in a previous Center survey, Americans’ knowledge of digital topics varies substantially by educational attainment as well as by age. Adults with a bachelor’s or advanced degree and those under the age of 50 tend to score higher on these questions. These are some of the key findings from a Pew Research Center survey of 4,272 adults living in the United States conducted June 3-17, 2019.