Americans looking back at the end of a decade have little love for trends such as reality TV, they are generally positive when evaluating the most basic technological and communications advances that have affected their lives, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Respondents had the overall best view of cellphones, which 69% claimed were a change for the better. Sixty-five percent said the same of both e-mail and the Internet.
Other, more advanced handheld devices, such as BlackBerrys and iPhones, were also relatively popular, though one-quarter of respondents thought they were a change for the worse. Unsurprisingly, younger adults were more likely to be positive about the rise of smartphones, while users over 65 were more evenly split.
Online shopping was slightly less likely to be seen as a good development, at 54% of total respondents. But when it came to e-commerce, 24% of consumers said it made no difference—and younger adults disliked it at more than twice the rate of seniors.
“No difference” was also a major factor in consumer views of the marketing darling, social networking sites. Adults of all ages were notably ambivalent about the sites, though nearly one-half of those under 50 had a positive impression. Despite wide uptake in recent years, the largest group of respondents over 65 did not know enough to say whether social networks were good or bad.
Even active users of social media have registered mixed feelings of the medium with other researchers, however. Crowd Science reported that more than one-half of female users ages 12 to 21, for example, thought they spent too much time with social media.