Confused Over Tech? Welcome to the Club

If you are a technophile, what's the first thing your wife / friend / relative does when they can't figure out something, or when there's a problem, no matter how small, technology-wise.  Yep, they come to you.

Now, yes, most of us here are technophiles, but besides that a new Pew Internet & American Life Project study (.PDF) which focuses on "When Technology Fails," seems to show that youth and gender play a role in how confident a user will be in fixing a tech failure by themselves.

And yes, besides the obvious stats they gathered about how many failures may have occurred, Pew Research was focusing on how confident a consumer felt about fixing a problem when a failure occurred, as well as how impatient such failures made them feel.

In terms of those technophiles:
The 52% of tech users who are comfortable learning to use new devices on their own are more likely to be independent and confident device fixers. Some 35% of this group, compared with 19% of those who need help with new devices, fixed broken technology on their own; and, 81% of the more tech-savvy group said they felt confident during the course of fixing their devices, while 62% of those who need with devices help felt confident. Both groups, however, are equally likely to contact user support for help and are equally likely to fix their broken devices in the end.
But age plays a role; you can assume it's because the young have been living with tech their entire lives:
Younger users are generally much more optimistic than older adults when their gadgets fail. Although young adults age 18-29 years old are no more likely to be able fix devices on their own, they were significantly more likely to be confident that they were on the right path to fixing it, and they were significantly less likely than older adults to feel discouraged or confused about fixing devices. Fully 85% of 18-29 year olds reported being confident about solving their device problem, while only about a third of them said they were discouraged or confused. Meanwhile, over half (52%) of adults age 30 and older reported being discouraged, 44% said they were confused, and about two out of three (67%) said they were confident. Adults age 30-49 were somewhat less likely than older adults to be confused, as just 39% said they were.
And I'm sorry, women, but according to the study:
Men were significantly more likely than women to be confident about the problem solving (76% vs. 68%), but they were no less likely than women to report being confused, discouraged or impatient during the course of trying to solve the problem.
Income and education? According to the study, those sets of demographics played no significant role in producing differences in emotional reactions to device failure.

More interesting data:
  • Nearly half (48%) of respondents said they usually need someone else to set up a new device up for them or show them how to use it.We guess we fit into the other 52%. In general, we won't read a manual until we've frustrated ourselves.
  • 44% of those with home internet access say their connection failed to work properly for them at some time in the previous 12 months. Only 44%?
  • 29% of cell phone users say their device failed to work properly at some time in the previous year. We'd really like to know if this meant just a reboot of the device.
And finally, how did people fix their problems? Well, quite a few never got a fix:
38% of users with failed technology contacted user support for help. 28% of technology users fixed the problem themselves. 15% fixed the problem with help from friends or family. 15% were unable to fix the problem. 2% found help online.
Speaking of confidence, does that 15% figure that never got a fix make you feel more --- or less --- confident about fixing an issue yourself?

The study surveyed 2,054 adults between October 24, 2007, and December 2, 2007. Some 734 respondents in the survey were technology users who had at least one device fail in the past.
Tags:  Tech, sed, LC, Fuse, COM