As recently as 1995, 42 percent of American adults said they had never heard of the Internet.  Today, use of the Internet is pervasive at home, work, and on mobile devices.

It is a primary source of news, information, entertainment, and social interaction.  To understand its evolution, Pew conducts surveys and qualitative research that tracks and analyzes how Americans use digital technology, and the ways in which online activity affects their families, communities, health, educational pursuits, politics, and workplace activities.

Recent Work

February 21, 2020 Shareable quotes from experts on the future of democracy

Key quotes from a Pew Research Center canvassing of experts about the effect of technology on democracy.

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February 21, 2020 Acknowledgments

We are extremely thankful for the contributions of the people who participated in this canvassing. This report is a collaborative effort based on the input and analysis of the following individuals. Primary researchers Janna Anderson, Executive Director, Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center Lee Rainie, Director, Internet and Technology Research Research contributor Emily Vogels, Research […]

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February 21, 2020 About this canvassing of experts

The expert predictions reported here about the impact of digital technologies on key aspects of democracy and democratic representation came in response to a set of questions asked by Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center in an online canvassing conducted between July 3, 2019, and Aug. 5, 2019. This is the […]

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February 21, 2020 5. Tech will have mixed effects that are not possible to guess now

When asked about how people’s uses of technology will affect core aspects of democracy in the next decade about 18% of the experts responding to this canvassing said they will not affect much change in core aspects of democracy and democratic representation. Fred Baker, board member of the Internet Systems Consortium and longtime leader in […]

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February 21, 2020 4. Hopeful themes and suggested solutions

About a third of the experts who responded to this canvassing said people’s uses of technology will mostly strengthen core aspects of democracy and democratic representation. This section includes comments about hopes for the future that were made by all respondents, whether or not their answer in this canvassing was that democracy will be strengthened. […]

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February 21, 2020 3. Concerns about democracy in the digital age

About half of the experts responding to this canvassing said people’s uses of technology will mostly weaken core aspects of democracy and democratic representation, but even those who expressed optimism often voiced concerns. This section includes comments about problems that were made by all respondents regardless of their answer to the main question about the […]

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February 21, 2020 2. Broader thoughts from key experts on the future of democracy at a time of digital disruption

The following expert contributions offer deep, broad insights that represent the diversity of thought expressed by leading expert commentators in this canvassing. If we develop guardrails, the core elements of democracy will be strengthened Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, wrote, “There are too many variables in play to predict just one plausible […]

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February 21, 2020 1. Themes about the digital disruption of democracy in the next decade

The pessimists about democracy in this canvassing make several arguments and foresee several outcomes. A share believe that there will be not be adequate reform in the design and management of technology platforms; that government will not respond in the best interests of citizens; that the speed, scope and impact of digital tools all work […]

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