As technology use grows, so do feelings of ‘digital distrust’

Specifically the concern with technology relates to the concept of ‘digital distrust’. This concept can be interpreted in different ways, and it often includes elements like hesitancy due to a lack of skills as well as a distrust of what types of data are being collected and what happens to this information. While businesses tend to have cybersecurity and the regulations pertaining to privacy in mind, two of the biggest barriers with consumers are fear of technology and privacy concerns.

The survey comes from Hyland relating to the U.S. population. This finds that people in the U.S. are seemingly growing increasingly distrustful of technology and public health information. The data was based on a poll of 1000 consumers to determine how technology has factored into their lives during the pandemic, and how their trust in it has changed as a result.

Consumer use of technology amid the pandemic

The survey found that 71 percent of respondents had increased their technology use amid the pandemic, with 44 percent admitting there use has grown ‘significantly’. The primary driver is home working. Here is usage is up for over a third of respondents (34 percent) due to remote work, while 29 percent of people attribute the use to digital grocery shopping, driven by the pandemic.

Many people are new to the technology, with 45 percent stating that their first encounter with video conferencing technology happened after March 2020.

Consumer mistrust in first-time use technology applications

Consumers are concerned about some of the technology on offer. For example, 20 percent of people had used 5G for the first time during COVID-19, and overall 20 percent expressed the view they had no or limited trust in it. Similarly, 19 percent had used a smart speaker for the first time during COVID-19. Overall, on the issue of trust 39 percent said they had no or limited trust with these devices.

In terms of services, and the gig economy in particular, 18 percent stated they had used a gig service for the first time during COVID-19. Overall, 27 percent had no or limited trust in these types of services.

Consumer mistrust in unknown or negative public image technology applications

Artificial intelligence stands as the technology mist distrusted users, with 41 of people expressing misgiving. Of more interest is the growing concern as AI becomes advanced. Here 57 percent think AI has the potential to do damage over the next 10 years.

A further source of consumer concern was with social media. Over half (51 percent) see the potential for social media to cause harm, with 52 percent having no or limited trust in the different platforms.

Blockchain is so unfamiliar to consumers to the degree that 43 percent of respondents selected ‘not applicable’ when asked about their trust in digital ledgers.

Consumer mistrust in government sources for health information

In terms of an understanding of the wheels of administration, almost a quarter (22 percent) of respondents said they have some distrust or no trust at all in COVID-19 information being provided by officials. Other professions fare better, although 9 percent have some distrust or are neutral on their trust toward their own healthcare professionals regarding COVID-19.

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