As we wrap up the year and ponder what we learned and what we should have learned, I like to turn to the Pew Research Center. Its findings always help me better understand our world and what to worry about or celebrate as we start a new year.
Here are some of the 2022 research highlights from Pew.
- A growing share of adult TikTok users in the U.S. are getting news on the platform, bucking the trend on other social media sites, according to surveys Pew conducted last summer. A third of adults who use TikTok say they regularly get news there, up from 22% two years ago. Pew says “the increase comes even as news consumption on many other social media sites has either decreased or stayed about the same in recent years. For example, the share of adult Facebook users who regularly get news there has declined from 54% in 2020 to 44% this year.” As a journalist, and one who hasn’t been using TikTok, this makes me realize that I may need to rethink my social media usage.
- While we’re talking about social media, Pew also highlighted its 2022 survey of people in 19 advanced economies finding that “majorities in nations around the world generally see social media as a good thing for democracy – but not in the United States…Americans are the most negative about the impact of social media on democracy: 64% say it has been bad. Republicans are much more likely than Democrats (74% vs. 57%) to see the ill effects of social media on the political system.” Given Trump’s use of social media and what Elon Musk has been up to at Twitter, these findings don’t astound me.
- The public is more likely than journalists to support giving every side of a story equal coverage. Journalists surveyed by Pew largely said that every side does not always deserve equal coverage. In the media, we call this the debate over “bothsideism.” How should we as journalists cover outright lies and misinformation, like those often spread by Trump and his followers? Does a climate change denier merit equal coverage in a report on global warming? What about a Holocaust denier?
- In a survey before the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, Pew found that “most think it should be legal in at least some circumstances, but most are also open to limitations on its availability in others.” In a separate survey after the high court struck down Roe v. Wade, Pew found that “57% of adults disapproved of the decision, including 43% who strongly disapproved.” I am grateful to live in a state that has taken additional steps to protect reproductive freedom.
- Roughly four-in-ten Americans (41%) say none of their purchases in a typical week are paid for using cash, according to a July 2002 Pew survey. That’s up from 24% in 2015. This resonated with me because I often head out now with no cash and sometimes no credit cards, relying instead on my smartphone wallet app.
Check out Pew’s full list of its most striking findings of 2022 to see which surprise you, resonate with you or dismay you. There’s plenty of angst to go around.