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

June 30, 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 Emily A. Vogels, Research Associate Lee Rainie, Director, Internet and Technology Research Janna Anderson, Director, Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center Editorial […]

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June 30, 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 and likely social and civic innovation 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 July 3-Aug. 5, 2019. This […]

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June 30, 2020 6. The net effects in 10 years will be negligible

Many of the experts in this canvassing responded that there may not be a great deal of meaningful change in social and civic innovation in the next decade. Some said they expect 2030 to be relatively similar to today. Some said there will be change for the better and the worse, and, as such, the […]

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June 30, 2020 5. Tech causes more problems than it solves

A number of respondents to this canvassing about the likely future of social and civic innovation shared concerns. Some said that technology causes more problems than it solves. Some said it is likely that emerging worries over the impact of digital life will be at least somewhat mitigated as humans adapt. Some said it is […]

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June 30, 2020 4. It’s all just history repeating itself

A number of these experts said that when people try to predict the future it can be helpful to look at the past and assess today’s trends. They drew parallels from the present moment to past eras and extrapolated based on current trends. This section includes comments about how the past can inform the future. […]

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June 30, 2020 3. Power dynamics play a key role in problems and innovation

Many of the experts in this canvassing said power dynamics play a key role in technology development and social and civic innovation and have substantial impact in regard to broad societal issues. These experts highlighted the discrepancies they see in regard to who has access to power and who controls the instruments of power. Some […]

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June 30, 2020 2. Tech is (just) a tool

Many of these experts pointed out that technology is neither inherently helpful nor harmful. It is simply a tool. They said the real effects of technology depend upon how it is wielded. It can be used to inspire and catalyze change just as easily as it can be used in ways that are detrimental to […]

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June 30, 2020 1. The innovations these experts predict by 2030

Americans and many around the world are not terribly satisfied with the state of democracy and the institutions that undergird it. Experts who were canvassed about the relationship between people’s technology use and democracy also expressed serious concerns about how things will unfold in the next decade. At the same time, the experts responding to […]

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