Eszter Hargittai

Eszter Hargittai
University of Zurich | UZH · Department of Communication and Media Research (IKMZ)

PhD, Sociology, Princeton University

About

146
Publications
56,831
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
18,314
Citations
Introduction

Publications

Publications (146)
Article
Full-text available
Misinformation can be easily spread with the click of a button, but can cause irreversible harm and negatively impact news consumers’ ability to discern false information. Some prior work suggests that older adults may engage with (read, share, or believe) misinformation at higher rates than others. However, engagement explanations vary. In an effo...
Article
Older adults often assist one another in using digital technology and tend to prefer assistance provided at home. However, research has yet to examine how life partners in this age group support one another in using technology. We interviewed 50 older adults representing 25 couples in five countries about their sources of support when using the Int...
Article
Full-text available
Digital inequality scholarship has consistently found that people from varying societal positions experience digital media in their lives in divergent ways. Therefore, the growing body of research examining the relationship of social media use and well-being should account for the role of social inequality. This piece synthesizes key empirical rese...
Article
We surveyed American adults during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic to examine who is more or less likely to use video chat for various types of social gatherings when in-person interactions are less available, and how such gatherings associate with feelings of social connectedness. We found that those with greater socioeconomic and digita...
Chapter
Millennials make up for the largest generational cohort and are known to have grown up with mobile phones. This research focuses on the period when millennials had formed a habit of using various features on their mobile phones when they were transitioning from youth to adulthood. Drawing on a unique data set representing a diverse group of young a...
Chapter
People with disabilities face unique challenges online, even once they are connected. While policy, advocacy, and the search for new markets have increased accessibility to the Internet, the question remains as to whether this shift has been accompanied by in a comparable gain in Internet skills. In this chapter, we compare national survey data fro...
Chapter
Considerable research has looked at people's attitudes and approaches to privacy, but little work has considered how people develop the skills to approach the increasing complexities associated with protecting one's personal information online. Based on focus group interviews, we explore the social and technical strategies people use to protect the...
Article
Full-text available
As opportunities for social interactions proliferate online, questions arise as to how engagement in such activities may relate to mental health. Given older adults’ shrinking networks and increasing use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), online interactions could offer alternatives for connections that could ultimately benefit o...
Article
An increasing number of data-driven decision aids are being developed to provide humans with advice to improve decision-making around important issues such as personal health and criminal justice. For algorithmic systems to support human decision-making effectively, people must be willing to use them. Yet, prior work suggests that accuracy and priv...
Article
Full-text available
Communication has long been concerned with people’s media repertoires, yet little of this approach has extended to the combination of social media platforms that people use. Despite their considerable popularity, research has found that people do not select into the use of social network sites (SNSs) randomly, which has implications for both whose...
Article
Studies on disconnection from social media and related technologies tend to focus on the user’s disconnection from one specific technology, and consequently provide an incomplete view. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 57 older adults ages 59+, we find that replacement is more common than complete disconnection, which suggests that research shoul...
Article
Science rarely proceeds beyond what scientists can observe and measure, and sometimes what can be observed proceeds far ahead of scientific understanding. The twenty-first century offers such a moment in the study of human societies. A vastly larger share of behaviours is observed today than would have been imaginable at the close of the twentieth...
Conference Paper
How do people in a precarious profession leverage technology to grow their business and improve their quality of life? Sex workers sit at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities and makeup a sizeable workforce: the United Nations estimates that at least42 million sex workers are conducting business across the globe.Yet, little research...
Article
Full-text available
As COVID-19 swept across the globe, disrupting people’s lives through lockdowns and health concerns, information about how to stay safe and how to identify symptoms spread across media of all forms. Using survey data we collected in April 2020 on a national sample of Americans, we tested the knowledge gap hypothesis by examining how people’s educat...
Article
Though older adults are online in increasing numbers, many still lag behind other age groups. Age is one of the most persisting aspects of digital inequality, and given the many potential benefits of digital media for older adults, it is an inequity that deserves continued attention. Drawing on in-depth interviews with a multinational sample of old...
Article
Some of the most popular websites depend on user-generated content produced and aggregated by unpaid volunteers. Contributing in such ways constitutes a type of generous behavior, as it costs time and energy while benefiting others. This study examines the relationship between contributions to a variety of online information resources and an experi...
Article
We introduce the rationale for a new peer-reviewed scholarly journal, the Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media. The journal is intended to create a new venue for research on digital media and address several deficiencies in the current social science publishing landscape. First, descriptive research is undersupplied and undervalued. S...
Article
Full-text available
Hundreds of millions of people learn something new online every day. Simultaneously, the study of online education has blossomed within the human computer interaction community, with new systems, experiments, and observations creating and exploring previously undiscovered online learning environments. In this study we endeavor to characterize this...
Article
Full-text available
As hiring processes have increasingly moved online, having better digital skills could play an important role in successful job seeking. However, digital inequality suggests that people use the Internet in different ways with varying levels of skills raising questions about who is most likely to be able to search for jobs online, including on socia...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing stay-at-home orders caused tremendous restrictions in social contacts, which led to increasing use of the internet for daily tasks and social interactions. As prior research has established, people with disabilities (PWD) had already been using the internet for such purposes prior to the pandemic, especially fo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Hundreds of millions of people learn something new online every day. Simultaneously, the study of online education has blossomed within the human computer interaction community, with new systems, experiments, and observations creating and exploring previously undiscovered online learning environments. In this study we endeavor to characterize this...
Article
Theoretical and empirical work on digital media use and social connectedness has often considered face-to-face communication to be an available option. But how do various digital media uses relate to social connectedness when face-to-face communication is not, or much less, possible? Drawing on survey data from 2925 US adults during the early month...
Article
Full-text available
In times of physical distancing, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, people are likely to turn to digital communication to replace in-person interactions. Yet persisting digital inequality suggests that not everyone will be equally able or disposed to increasing digital communication during a public health crisis. Using survey data from a nationa...
Article
Background: Using the internet for health information is a widespread phenomenon documented in considerable scholarship. Less common, however, is the analysis of panel data to examine how internet use may relate to change in health status over time. Objective: This study examines whether internet use and internet use related to health are associate...
Article
Voice assistants have become increasingly popular as part of digital technologies that people use in their everyday lives. Research on Internet use has shown that people’s online experiences are influenced by their level of know-how about the platforms they use. Extending the literature on Internet skills, this article focuses on people’s algorithm...
Article
Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) offers a relatively low-cost alternative to traditional expensive survey samples, which likely explains its popularity among survey researchers. An important question about using such samples is whether they are representative of the larger Internet user population. Though prior research has addressed this question abou...
Article
The spread of COVID-19 across the globe hit everybody hard, bringing to the forefront concerns for the lives of older adults, those living in elder care facilities, and those with existing medical conditions, groups for which the pandemic poses a particularly high risk. While mask mandates and public service announcements from celebrities and polit...
Article
Full-text available
Older adults include highly sophisticated digital media users among their numbers for whom diverse methods of using online technology are a daily occurrence. Given that some older adults are quite tech-savvy, it follows that they may also provide digital media support to others. This study examines technological support-giving abilities and experie...
Preprint
The Coronavirus pandemic differentially impacted older adults in comparison to other age groups, creating extended time at home and even limiting interaction with others. In order to understand how individuals are coping with extensive time at home, we used a representative sample of community-dwelling adults to examine how home experiences and per...
Article
While the stereotypical older adult is one who is clueless about technology, research on this age group paints a different picture. Adding to the literature about older adults’ varying tech savvy, this paper focuses on the technological support-giving abilities of those in later stages of life based on interviews conducted in four countries. Far fr...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 global pandemic led governments, health agencies, and technology companies to work on solutions to minimize the spread of the disease. One such solution concerns contact-tracing apps whose utility is tied to widespread adoption. Using survey data collected a few weeks into lockdown measures in the United States, we explore Americans’ w...
Preprint
How do people in a precarious profession leverage technology to grow their business and improve their quality of life? Sex workers sit at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities and makeup a sizable workforce: the UN estimates that at least 42 million sex workers are conducting business across the globe. Yet, little research has examin...
Article
Full-text available
Governments and public health institutions across the globe have set social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. With reduced opportunities to spend time together in person come new challenges to remain socially connected. This essay addresses how the pandemic has changed people’s use of digital communication meth...
Article
The emergence of social network sites and online communities has offered new possibilities for older adults to stay socially connected and older adults comprise a growing user group of social media. This paper examines the relationship between older adults’ online social engagement and social capital based on a national survey of adults aged 60 and...
Preprint
BACKGROUND Using the Internet for health information is a widespread phenomenon that considerable scholarship has documented. Less common, however, is the analysis of panel data to examine how Internet use may relate to change in health status over time. OBJECTIVE This study examines whether Internet use and Internet use related to health are asso...
Article
Background Using the internet for health information is a widespread phenomenon documented in considerable scholarship. Less common, however, is the analysis of panel data to examine how internet use may relate to change in health status over time. Objective This study examines whether internet use and internet use related to health are associated...
Article
Full-text available
In March 2020, like much of the rest of the world, we went into lockdown. A week into our new reality, we decided to do a survey study about how people were experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. In this piece, we describe what motivated us to do the study, how we went about it, and what others can learn from our experiences.
Article
Researchers from the University of Zurich share how the coronavirus led them to redirect their research in order to better understand people’s communication habits during the pandemic, and what they found.
Preprint
A growing number of contact tracing apps are being developed to complement manual contact tracing. A key question is whether users will be willing to adopt these contact tracing apps. In this work, we survey over 4,500 Americans to evaluate (1) the effect of both accuracy and privacy concerns on reported willingness to install COVID19 contact traci...
Article
Considerable scholarship has established that algorithms are an increasingly important part of what information people encounter in everyday life. Much less work has focused on studying users’ experiences with, understandings of, and attitudes about how algorithms may influence what they see and do. The dearth of research on this topic globally wit...
Article
Full-text available
Given the high cost of traditional survey administration (postal mail, phone) and the limits of convenience samples such as university students, online samples offer a much welcomed alternative. Amazon Mechanical Turk (AMT) has been especially popular among academics for conducting surveys and experiments. Prior research has shown that AMT samples...
Article
Prior work suggests that for older adults, using the Internet may reduce loneliness and thereby improve mental health. However, most studies concentrate on the relationship between Internet use and depression. Anxiety as an outcome of interest remains less understood, particularly for older adults. Using data from an online survey of older adults a...
Article
Full-text available
Given that older adults constitute a highly heterogeneous group that engages with digital media in varying ways, there is likely to be large variation in technology support needs, something heretofore unaddressed in the literature. Drawing on in-depth qualitative interviews with a multinational sample of older adults, the authors explore the suppor...
Article
Full-text available
Although much research examines the factors that affect technology adoption and use, less is known about how older adults as a group differ in their ability to use the Internet. The theory of digital inequality suggests that even once people have gone online, differences among them will persist in important ways such as their online skills. We anal...
Chapter
Given that the Internet is now ubiquitous in high-income nations, do Internet skills still matter? The authors of this chapter synthesize a body of research that shows how Internet skills, defined across ten dimensions, remain critical, especially as the technology becomes ever more significant and embedded into everyday life. Having the requisite...
Article
Social support can play a critical role in the development of Internet skills. Research on support-seeking for digital media use has primarily considered informal sources such as family and friends, and formal sources such as people employed to provide assistance. Yet, people may also seek support online. Social network sites and other online commu...
Article
Given the ever-rising frequency of malware attacks and other problems leading people to lose their files, backups are an important proactive protective behavior in which users can engage. Backing up files can prevent emotional and financial losses and improve overall user experience. Yet, we find that less than half of young adults perform mobile o...
Article
Full-text available
With a large portion of the population online and the high cost of phone-based surveys, querying people about their voter preference online can offer an affordable and timely alternative. However, given that there are biases in who adopts various sites and services that are often used as sampling frames (e.g., various social media), online politica...
Chapter
Purpose: Many Internet users search for health information but they struggle with assessing the quality of the information they find. By drawing on a multi-modal approach to data collection, this study aims to understand further the nuanced cognitive processes that people utilize as they acquire and evaluate online health information. Design: We us...
Article
While big data offer exciting opportunities to address questions about social behavior, studies must not abandon traditionally important considerations of social science research such as data representativeness and sampling biases. Many big data studies rely on traces of people’s behavior on social media platforms such as opinions expressed through...
Article
As the world population ages and older adults comprise a growing proportion of current and potential Internet users, understanding the state of Internet use among older adults as well as the ways their use has evolved may clarify how best to support digital media use within this population. This article synthesizes the quantitative literature on In...
Article
Full-text available
While considerable research has looked at how people use the Internet for sharing and engaging with various types of content from celebrity news to politics, very little of this work has considered how non-specialists interact with science and research material on social media. This article reviews literature on public engagement with science to no...
Article
Although research has examined demographic predictors of the presence of technology rules during childhood, results are mixed, and no known research has considered whether the presence of and reasons for technology rules might relate to individuals’ future academic achievement. We used survey data collected from a diverse sample of 1,115 college st...
Article
Relying on the think-aloud method, this article explores how a diverse group of American adults seek health information online. Analyzing over 350,000 words of interview material and over 43 hours of video screen shots, the study identifies the specific strategies users rely upon in the health-information seeking context. People simultaneously depl...
Article
What incentives and disincentives do Internet users weigh as they consider providing information to institutional actors such as government agencies and corporations online? Focus group participants list several benefits to sharing information including convenience, access to information, personalization, financial incentives, and more accurate hea...
Article
Digital inequalities undermine the democratizing potential of the Internet. While many people engage in public discourse through participatory media, knowledge gaps limit engagement in the networked public sphere. Participatory web platforms have unique potential to facilitate a more equitable production of knowledge. This paper conceptualizes a pi...
Article
How do people find answers to questions they encounter in everyday life? While extensive research has examined how people go about finding answers to questions online, there has been little work investigating the issue from a more holistic, in situ perspective that covers the various devices, resources, and contextual factors that influence everyda...
Article
There is increasing concern and scholarship about how algorithms influence users’ online experiences. Yet, little of the work is empirical in nature, leaving many questions about whether users recognize how algorithms affect their online actions and whether they can address the influence of algorithms skillfully. To address this gap, we draw on int...
Article
Full-text available
Research on digital inequality tends to collapse people above a certain age into one “older adults” category, seemingly assuming that this is one homogeneous group when it comes to internet uses. Drawing on national survey data of adults in the United States, this article examines the online skills and behaviour of this group. Findings reveal diver...
Article
Full-text available
Research on digital inequality tends to collapse people above a certain age into one "older adults" category, seemingly assuming that this is one homogeneous group when it comes to internet uses. Drawing on national survey data of adults in the United States, this article examines the online skills and behaviour of this group. Findings reveal diver...
Chapter
Women, members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and those of lower socioeconomic status tend to contribute to online conversations at lower levels. Such unequal participation then results in the underrepresentation of certain perspectives on the many user-generated content platforms that hundreds of millions of people peruse on a daily...
Article
Full-text available
While the digital inequality literature has considered differences in the online experiences of many population segments, relatively little work has examined how people with disabilities (PWD) have incorporated digital media into their lives. Based on a national survey of American adults, this paper explores this question through considering both b...
Conference Paper
When users post on social network sites, they can engage in audience-reaching strategies, in an effort to reach desired audience members, as well as audience-limiting strategies, in an effort to avoid unwanted audience members. While much research has focused on users’ audience-limiting strategies, little research has explicitly focused on usersâ...
Article
Full-text available
When people construct and share posts on social network sites like Facebook and Twitter, whom do they imagine as their audience? How do users describe this imagined audience? Do they have a sub-audience in mind (e.g., “friends who like reality television”)? Do they share more broadly and abstractly (e.g., “the public”)? Do such imaginings fluctuate...
Article
Based on focus group interviews, we considered how young adults’ attitudes about privacy can be reconciled with their online behavior. The “privacy paradox” suggests that young people claim to care about privacy while simultaneously providing a great deal of personal information through social media. Our interviews revealed that young adults do und...
Article
Full-text available
People’s information sharing on Facebook often happens through mobile devices allowing for posting from different locations. Despite the potential contextual differences in content sharing, the literature on online privacy management rarely takes into consideration the type of device and the type of location from which people post content. Do these...
Article
This article discusses methodological challenges of using big data that rely on specific sites and services as their sampling frames, focusing on social network sites in particular. It draws on survey data to show that people do not select into the use of such sites randomly. Instead, use is biased in certain ways yielding samples that limit the ge...
Article
Despite the egalitarian rhetoric surrounding online cultural production, profound gender inequalities remain in who contributes to one of the most visited Web sites worldwide, Wikipedia. In analyzing this persistent disparity, previous research has focused on aspects of current contributors and the existing Wikipedia community. We draw on unique pa...
Article
Managing our personal information is becoming increasingly complex as people share more and more about themselves and others online. Beyond the ordinary challenges people face in disclosing information in face-to-face settings, the Internet presents additional demands users must take into account related to the size and diversity of their audience...
Article
Photo-sharing has become a ubiquitous activity thanks to digital tools both for taking and for disseminating photographs. How selective are people in choosing the audience with which they share their photos of everyday life and friends? Are there systematic differences in people's related privacy choices? Studies tend to take a dichotomous approach...
Article
Full-text available
The widespread adoption of social media and other networked technologies by youth has prompted concerns about the safety issues they face when they go online, including the potential of being hurt by a stranger, being exposed to pornographic or violent content, and bullying or being bullied. These concerns often manifest as fears and anxieties in p...
Article
How does online know-how relate to people's tendencies to manage their privacy? A survey of a diverse group of young adults' online skills and privacy practices reveals patterns of online privacy management, specifically with job search in mind. Findings suggest that women, Whites, and those with higher Internet privacy skills are more likely to ma...
Article
Popular narratives assume that digital media play a central role mobilizing voters and especially young adults. Based on unique survey data of a diverse group or young adults from Spring, 2009, we consider the relationship between differentiated internet uses, and online and offline political engagement around the time of the 2008 U.S. presidential...
Article
Citizens need civic literacy to make sense of the laws that govern them. How do citizens learn about their rights in an age of abundant online information? This study examines how a diverse group of 65 young adults—a generation of people who grew up in the digital age—use the Internet to assess their rights to public photography. The laws surroundi...
Article
Despite much excitement about the microblogging platform Twitter, little is known about predictors of its adoption and how its uses relate to other online activities in particular. Using a unique longitudinal data set from 2009 to 2010 surveying over 500 diverse young American adults about their online experiences, we look at how adoption of Twitte...
Article
This study reports on new media adopters’ perceptions of and reactions to the shift from push broadcasting and headlines to the pull dynamics of online search. From a series of focus groups with adults from around the United States we find three dominant themes: (1) Most feel empowered and enthusiastic, not overloaded; (2) evolving forms of social...
Article
While research has established that turning to the Internet for information about health matters is increasingly common, we know little about the strategies that people use to access such information and the accuracy of material they consult online. This paper draws on in-person observations and interviews with a diverse group of 210 young adults a...
Article
There is a dearth of survey instruments for measuring Internet skills. This article presents results from additional implementations of a previously-developed index measure. It considers the performance of the original instrument over time as well as shortened versions of it on two surveys of different populations. Drawing on analyses of five diffe...
Article
One of the key elements of understanding mechanisms of social stratification in job market entry is looking at the ways in which groups learn about careers and seek jobs in early adulthood. Online resources for job seeking are growing, yet we know very little about the nature of young adults' use of the Internet for this purpose. Are there types of...
Article
Full-text available
Facebook, like many communication services and social media sites, uses its Terms of Service (ToS) to forbid children under the age of 13 from creating an account. Such prohibitions are not uncommon in response to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which seeks to empower parents by requiring commercial Web site operators to obtai...
Article
Full-text available
Variation in ability to access and use health information is a key pathway through which social status may impact health. Digital media offer new opportunities for health information seeking, potentially lowering barriers to such content. Using a data set with nuanced information about what sources a diverse group of college students consults for d...
Article
What motivates young adults to start using the popular microblogging site Twitter? Can we identify any systematic patterns of adoption or is use of the service randomly distributed among internet users of this demographic? Drawing on unique longitudinal data surveying 505 diverse young American adults about their internet uses at two points in time...
Article
Full-text available
The authors examined the sources of health information among first-year university students and whether the predictors of information-seeking varied by information source. First-year students in a required course at a midwestern public university were eligible to participate, and 82% (n = 1,060) completed the study. Students completed a survey ques...
Article
Wikipedia, a publicly edited online encyclopedia, is accessed by millions of users for answers to questions from trivial to high-stakes topics like health information. This new type of information resource may pose novel challenges for readers when it comes to evaluating the quality of content, yet very little is known about how Wikipedia readers u...