Very few Americans say they feel overwhelmed by the volume of news and information flooding their lives, despite talk of "information overload," a study found.
"Little research has focused on information overload and media consumption, yet it's a concept used in public discussions to describe today's 24/7 media environment," said Eszter Hargittai, a professor of communication studies at Northwestern and lead author of the study.
Most previous studies on information overload dynamics have involved fighter pilots or battlefield commanders, not ordinary citizens bombarded with information at their fingertips and on their device screens, a Northwestern release said Thursday.
Most study participants said television was their most used form of media, followed by Web sites, and only a few said they felt overwhelmed or that they felt they were experiencing "information overload."
"We found that the high volume of information available these days seems to make most people feel empowered and enthusiastic," Hargittai said. "People are able to get their news and information from a diverse set of sources and they seem to like having these options."
The few study participants who said they did feel overwhelmed were often those with low Internet skills, who haven't yet mastered social media filters and navigating search engine results, she said.