According to the average American, this one’s a no-brainer. In a poll of 1,203 American adults, Zogby International and 463 Communications reported that 83% of those surveyed believe that a typical 12-year old knows more about Internet than members of Congress.

Do I even need to remind anyone that The Internet is a Series of Tubes?? If the average member of Congress thinks like Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, it’s pretty obvious that this 83% of people are 100% correct.

It’s getting increasingly difficult for older career politicians to catch up with younger generations in terms of knowledge about the Web. I personally remember having computer classes as early as elementary school; I’m sure kids today are being exposed to the Internet at even younger ages. The result? Politicians that declare nonsensical myths about the “mystery” of computers. They just don’t get it.

CNET blogger Anne Broache also wrote about this survey:

“…when it came to deciding which political party has a better “grasp” of the Internet, survey respondents were mostly, well, undecided. About 30 percent threw their confidence behind Democrats, 20 percent chose Republicans, and more than 40 percent picked “neither” or said they weren’t sure.”

All of this information ties in with our research about political campaign sites and blogs (here, here, and here), which we found were generally of poor quality and failed to reach the general public on a personal level.

This leads me to make one obviously clear conclusion. Politicians should have 12-year olds run their websites.

Okay, maybe not. But on a more serious note, I do believe that it would be to the advantage of every campaign staff to include some younger people in their day-to-day operations. College students, for example, operate in huge social networks (both digitial and actual), and could help politicians reach out to younger and more tech-savvy demographics. I realize that many campaigns have college interns, but it would surprise me if these interns did much more than make photocopies and coffee.

At any rate, it’s apparent that politicians need to do something to improve their use and understanding of the Web. As shown in Sen. Ted Stevens’ “Series of Tubes Speech”, it is simply unacceptable to have senior members of our Congress have no understanding of a technology that so greatly affects our daily lives and operations of the US government.

In addition to the discussion of kids vs. politicians, the survey had some other interesting findings. One that caught my eye is that when asked “What would make it harder for you to work – your car not starting, or losing Internet and email access?”, 78% of those surveyed said their car, while just 10% said the Internet. I personally do not own a car, but the thought of going one day without Internet or email is actually scary.

Also of note is that just one in five Americans believes that the next Bill Gates will come from the US. Half of those surveyed think that the next Internet mogul will be from China or Japan.

The survey was conducted between 12/5/06 and 12/8/2006, consisted of 1,203 American adults, and has an error margin of +/- 2.9%. You can read about the survey here and here.