IRVINE, Calif. — The internet is supposed to make our lives easier, and it’s hard to argue that it hasn’t. However, a new survey of 1,000 American adults suggests that all of that convenience may be robbing an entire generation of basic home maintenance skills. In all, about two in five (38%) respondents said they are helpless and unable to fix any common household problems (patching up a drywall, fixing a running toilet) without the help of the internet.
The survey, commissioned by BigRentz, paints a pretty grim picture when it comes to home care self-sufficiency. Apparently, if the Wi-Fi happens to falter, many adults won’t be able to get anything done for themselves.
Respondents were asked about their ability to fix a variety of different house problems without turning to Google for help, and while close to half (43%) said they know how to unclog a drain, only 25% know how to install a drywall anchor. Another 39% said they can stop a running toilet all by themselves, and 38% can find a stud. Additionally, 31% know how to patch a hole in a drywall, and 29% said they can replace a washer on a leaky faucet.
Age is also a factor; 85% of survey participants over the age of 65 said they can accomplish at least one of the aforementioned tasks without the internet. Also, male respondents generally reported being more confident regarding home repair tasks than female participants.
Researchers also looked into search engine data to see how often Americans are looking into various issues, and found that 11,000 people search for information on how to fix a leaky faucet each and every month. Another 7,200 search “how to unclog a drain” every month, and 4,100 look into how to find a stud. Less frequent searches include “how to stop a running toilet” (1,500), “how to patch a drywall hole” (300), and “how to install a drywall anchor” (150).
Considering the prior statistic that only 25% of Americans know how to install a drywall anchor, the low number of monthly searches on that topic indicates that most are willing to call a repairman instead of fixing it themselves.
Those who grew up without the internet are clearly more comfortable fixing home problems themselves. On average, respondents over the age fo 45 are much more confident in their ability to perform repairs. Meanwhile, nearly half of respondents aged 18-24 admitted they can’t accomplish any of the aforementioned tasks.
If we examine gender differences more closely, 56% of female participants said they were unable to perform any of the listed tasks, while 44% of male respondents said the same. Even among each separate fix asked about in the survey, men reported at least a 15-20% higher knowledge base than women.
Constantly calling the local repair man can add up quickly as well. Researchers noted that U.S. homeowners spent an average of $10,000 on repairs in 2018.
The research was conducted by Google Surveys.