Poll: Americans say they are 'better informed' thanks to Internet

More than three quarters of Internet users believe online access has made them "better informed" on a range of issues from international news to pop culture.

A Pew Research poll released Monday found 76 percent believe the "average American" is better informed because of the Internet, with 77 percent saying the nation's students are more well-informed.

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Fifteen percent said the Internet has not made much of a difference. 

"Perhaps surprisingly in both cases, internet users under age 30 are less likely to believe the internet is making average Americans or today’s students better informed," Pew wrote in an analysis accompanying the poll. 

People said they were better informed about national news (75 percent), international news (74 percent), products to buy (81 percent) and pop culture (72 percent) than five years ago because of the Internet and cellphones.

Respondents reported they were better informed about nearly every topic compared to five years ago except news about their own neighborhood and government activities in their community. 

Fifty-eight percent and 49 percent, respectively, said they are not better informed in those two areas despite being connected online.

Americans are also positive about having access to so much information on the Internet. Seventy-two percent said they like having so much information, with 26 percent said they feel overloaded. That is an 8-point spike since last year, but it is in line with previous surveys taken in 2006 and 2007. 

Forty-four percent said the Internet and cellphones have improved their ability to get healthcare information, while 35 percent said it has somewhat improved it. Only 7 percent said it has not improved access to healthcare information at all. 

Fifty-three percent said the Internet and cellphones have greatly improved their ability to learn, while 34 percent said it has someone improved their learning. 

The online surveyed polled 1,066 people who either use the Internet at least occasionally. It was conducted from Sept. 12-18 and has a margin of error of 3.2 percent.