Web Second Only to TV for Science Info

A new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that Americans are increasingly turning to the Web as a source for information about science; in fact, the Web trails only television as a source of science info, and, for users with broadband Internet, the Web is just as popular as TV.

According to the survey, some 20 percent of respondents turn to the Internet as their primary source for news and information about science topics—projected to the entire American population, that’d be some 40 million people. In comparison, 41 percent of Americans see TV as their primary source of information about science, which would translate to over 80 million people. Newspapers and magazines were cited as primary sources by 14 percent of respondents, and 4 percent cited radio.

Clearly, the Web has some catching up to do—but there are other signs of the Internet’s impact on American’s perception of science and access to science information. When broken down by age, younger users are more likely to rely on the Internet for science information: for Americans aged 15 to 25 years, 44 percent already use the Internet as their primary information source, while just 32 percent rely on television.

For users with home broadband, the Web is essentially as popular a source of information as television, with 33 percent of respondents saying they get most of their science news from TV, while 34 percent primarily use the Internet. Some 87 percent of online users—some 128 million adults—said they use the Internet as a research tool, with 70 percent saying they’ve used the Internet to look up a term or concept, and 68 percent saying they’ve looked to the Internet to answer a question about a scientific concept or theory.

When asked why they use the Internet for science information, 71 percent said they use the Internet because it’s convenient, while only 13 percent turn to the Internet because they believe the information is more accurate than other sources.

(What? Does this mean some of the things we read on the Internet aren’t true?)

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