Survey: Just how much do we actually know about the Internet?

Posted Nov 3, 2019 by Tim Sandle
How many of us know how the Internet works? Could we actually explain it? Do you know what an IP address is, or how a modem works? A new survey suggests that Internet ignorance runs fairly high.
An example of online education
An example of online education
Helgi Halldórsson (CC BY-SA 2.0) has surveyed 1,000 people in the U.S. to test their Internet and tech knowledge. The new survey shows that U.S. citizens, and presumably others around the world, may not know as much about the Internet and everyday technology as they think they do.
What is the Internet?
The Internet (or ‘interconnected network’) is the worldwide system of interconnected computer networks based on the Internet Protocol Suite / Transmission Control Protocol, which enables computers to be connected globally. The Internet is formed of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, and it was developed during the U.S. government during the 1960s. Although it was not until the linking of commercial networks occurred during the early 1990s that the Interne in the form that most people would recognize it came into being.
Different types of information is carried by the Internet in different formats, such as the World Wide Web (WWW), e-mail, forms of file sharing and so on.
CBC Music in web browser view
CBC Music in web browser view
New survey
The survey into knowledge and understanding of the Internet has produced some interesting results. The first was a lack of understanding as to how the Internet works. Here, 86 percent of surveyed U.S. citizens indicated that they do know how the Internet works. However, when they were asked to explain it, only 34 percent could not.
Furthermore, 77 percent equate the Internet and the World Wide Web as being the same thing – when in fact they are not.
This means that 1 in 3 of the U.S. population (if the survey results can be extrapolated) cannot explain how the Internet actually functions. Some of the most creative responses provided to the pollsters were: “it just does,” “under the oceans,” “through pipes” and “through airwaves.” It also stands that 43 percent of people think you can use the Internet without a modem.
Another interesting finding was that 33 percent of those surveyed believe their current cell phone uses 5G. (whereas 5G services have not been rolled out to many consumers. Furthermore, AT&T recently got in legal trouble for misleading consumers by labelling their 4G LTE network as ‘5Ge’).
On a more positive outlook, most of those surveyed did know what an IP address is, what a cookie is, what the difference between WiFi and internet is, and that you need more download speed than upload speed.