Pew: Most Americans say Internet makes them feel 'better informed'

Americans' faith in the value of information on the World Wide Web is up from 2006

More than three quarters of Internet users believe the average American is “better informed” on issues ranging from global news to pop culture because of the Internet, a new Pew Research Center study finds.

The research, released Monday, showed the vast majority of Americans believe their use of the Web has not only helped them learn, but also increased their ability to “share ideas and creations with others.”

Pew’s survey found 87% of Internet users believed the Internet and cellphones have "improved their ability to learn new things." About 81% of online adults said the Internet has made them feel better informed about purchasing different products and services.

A better knowledge in national news came in a close second, with 75% of respondents saying they felt they learned more. Only 26% of respondents said they felt overloaded by the amount of information available online.

“These generally positive attitudes are buttressed by the view that people like having so much information at their fingertips, rather than feeling information overload,” the study said.

But the Internet’s impact is felt less in local news, with only 39% of respondents saying the Internet has taught them about their neighborhood or neighbors.

Americans’ faith in the value of information on the World Wide Web is up from 2006, when Pew found just 55% of adults felt the Internet boosted their ability to share their ideas.

“It is likely that a major contributor to the increase in this measurement is the rise of social networking sites, which were not heavily in use in 2006,” the study said. “Social networking sites are used by more than two-thirds of those who go online now.”

The survey, conducted Sept. 12-18, questioned 1,066 Internet users.

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