September 2, 2005

From the VCR to the Internet—some things never change

There’s the old saw that if you can’t program your VCR (or now maybe DVD or even TIVO?) you should just hand the remote to the nearest child. Recent data collected by the Pew Internet Project suggest that the same is true when it comes to the internet. Kids and teens are still the go-to group for help with online problems.

In our November 2004 survey of parents and teens 12 to 17, we asked teens whether or not they had ever helped an adult do something online that they could not do themselves, and more than 4 out of 5 teens (82%) said that they had helped an adult with an internet problem. And while adults do help out teens and other adults with internet issues, they don’t do it nearly as much as teens do.

In January 2005 we asked adult internet users whether or not they had ever helped an adult do something online that they could not do themselves, and about three-quarter (72%) of online adults said they’d provided assistance to another adult. But when asked whether or not they’d helped out teens with online problems, only about half (53%) said they’d rendered assistance to a young person.