More than 80 percent of Americans think that the Internet is a great thing when it comes to their personal lives, but have a far less positive opinion of its effects on society as a whole, according to a new survey conducted by strategic communications firm Vrge Strategies.
Out of the 1,040 American consumers who were part of the survey, 81 percent said that the Internet, smartphones and other emerging technologies had made their lives better. And despite the prevailing wisdom that digital technology and social media have made us more isolated, 42 percent of the respondents said that their relationships with family and friends had actually improved because of their Internet use.
However, just 36 percent of those surveyed thought that the Internet was a positive influence on society, with 46 percent saying it had a negative effect. Technology companies had a pretty poor showing, too, with 55 percent of respondents voicing a belief that those companies don’t care about how their products affect society.
A lot of that negative image comes from security concerns, with 67 percent saying they would not give tech companies highly personal information, even if it would shorten their daily commute, and 65 percent saying they would not share medical records or personal health information in an effort to improve their health care.
In addition, most respondents (67 percent) thought that developments in artificial intelligence would cause job opportunities to drop.
“We remain in love with the Internet, smartphones and other advanced technologies for our own use, but we’ve got some serious concerns about its wide-scale impact,” said Vrge Strategies partner and co-founder John Zechner. “If companies don’t take steps to rebuild trust with consumers today, regulators will step in tomorrow with solutions that could very well put entire business models at risk.”