Report

When Technology Fails

  • November 16, 2008

Modern information and communication technologies open doors to a wealth of information. But many users find it difficult to set up these devices and frustrating when they break. 

According to this survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, nearly half (48%) of adults who use the internet or have a cell phone say they usually need someone else to set up a new device up for them or show them how to use it. And many users of various devices and services encounter breakdowns from time to time. Specifically: 

  • 44% of those with home internet access say their connection failed to work properly for them at some time in the previous 12 months.
  • 39% of those with desktop or laptop computers have had their machines not work properly at some time in the previous 12 months.
  • 29% of cell phone users say their device failed to work properly at some time in the previous year. 
  • 26% of those with Blackberries, Palm Pilots or other personal digital assistants say they have encountered a problem with their device at some time in the previous 12 months.
  • 15% of those with an iPod or MP3 player say their devices have not worked properly at some time in the prior year.

Respondents from all demographic groups who own a certain device are about equally likely to have that device fail, but younger cell phone owners are significantly more likely than seniors to have their cell phones break.