- 66% of Americans have asked ChatGPT to help with their IT problems.
- 24% of Americans have turned to TikTok for IT help.
- Wyoming is the state turning to ChatGPT the most for answers to tech problems.
- On average, 39% of IT experts would recommend advice from ChatGPT, with one piece of advice receiving an endorsement from 74% of experts.
Issues With IT
For the past decade, Google has been the go-to source for answers to our most intriguing questions. However, with the changing preferences of Gen Z and millennials and the emergence of technological advancements, Google now has two new competitors: TikTok and ChatGPT.
For some, TikTok has become the new Google, with people using the video app to search for answers to common problems and questions. For others, AI-based ChatGPT has been dubbed the “Google Killer” due to its ability to answer nearly any question with remarkable accuracy. Some search engines have already begun to embrace the change and incorporate the technology into their websites. Although, the results haven’t gone as expected.
To evaluate the effectiveness of TikTok versus ChatGPT for this purpose, we conducted a study comparing their solutions for common IT problems. We also surveyed 1,000 Americans about their experiences with different sources of tech support and asked 200 IT professionals to evaluate the quality of TikTok’s and ChatGPT’s advice. The results may change your perceptions of how AI can help you in everyday life.
Searching for Solutions
When Americans encounter a tech problem, where do they find IT help? These days, many turn to ChatGPT and TikTok for answers.
Given that ChatGPT only launched in November 2022, it’s interesting that many more people have turned to AI over TikTok, which has been a dominant social media app for years. However, ChatGPT is the fastest-growing online service ever, taking only five days to reach one million users.
Unsurprisingly, Gen Z was the generation most likely to have used both services to find answers to their IT questions. And while Gen Zers have been getting their answers from TikTok for a while, in just a few short months, four in five Gen Zers have asked ChatGPT for help with a tech problem. Less anticipated was the way men used ChatGPT significantly more than women, 75% versus 53%, respectively.
Next, we looked at where in the U.S. people have consulted ChatGPT for IT help.
Across the 50 most populous American cities, ChatGPT use has thrived in big tech hubs such as the Bay Area (including San Francisco and San Jose), New York City, and Seattle. Naturally, more tech professionals likely means more tech questions. But in addition to having more computer problems than the average person, tech workers could also be more likely to know about ChatGPT and how to use it.
However, we didn’t observe this trend when looking at state data: a handful of predominantly rural states, such as Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota, ranked in the top 10 states using ChatGPT for IT help. This AI bot could be revolutionary in more remote communities where people may not have easy access to in-person tech experts. Now, rural residents can get step-by-step instructions in their homes.
Many are turning to TikTok and ChatGPT for tech help, but how good is the advice they find?
To find out, we took the four most-asked IT questions of the past year and searched for answers on TikTok and ChatGPT. We then had 200 IT experts choose which advice they thought was accurate, and we gave each piece of advice an “accuracy score” based on the experts’ evaluations. This score was calculated by dividing the number of experts that selected the advice by the total possible 200.
Overall, the IT experts found ChatGPT’s advice to be more accurate than the suggestions from TikTok. The only tech issue in which TikTok beat ChatGPT was frozen computer screens, although the social media app came close when advising how to handle an overheating phone. To find out what experts specifically liked and didn’t like, let’s look at the specific advice they evaluated.
If your computer screen freezes, TikTok and ChatGPT’s best solution is to restart the computer. This measure scored a 62 in accuracy based on expert knowledge. The most accurate answers for preventing a computer screen from freezing were common, with both platforms suggesting users keep software and drivers up to date.
When we analyzed all answers, the average accuracy score of the solution for this tech problem was 47 for TikTok and 45 for ChatGPT. This was the only instance where TikTok had a better average score than ChatGPT.
Our experts also gave supplemental advice about handling a frozen computer screen. To prevent your computer screen from freezing, one expert recommends ensuring you don’t multitask over what the computer can do. And after your computer screen has unfrozen, if using a PC, it’s recommended to look at the Window event viewer to check for any anomalies.
Next, we asked both services how to handle slow internet speeds. For this problem, experts ruled more decisively in favor of ChatGPT, giving it an average score of 47 — a full 16 points more than TikTok.
However, it’s worth noting that while ChatGPT’s advice received substantial support from experts, its solutions often required spending money, such as upgrading your service, checking your plan, and investing in a new router. Meanwhile, TikTok offered a few more free troubleshooting options, like rebooting your router regularly and placing it in an open space.
Our experts had one more suggestion to add to the advice already given by TikTok and ChatGPT: regularly clear your browser cache and history. Clearing the cache and history can help your computer run optimally. Now, what did TikTok and ChatGPT have to say about how to handle a slow computer?
Once again, experts preferred ChatGPT’s advice to TikTok’s answers. The best advice was to add more RAM to the computer and limit the number of programs running simultaneously. However, adding more RAM isn’t always the cheapest or easiest option as it requires the purchase of additional parts as well as taking your computer apart and putting it back together. Other popular solutions included running disk cleanups and regular virus and malware scans.
Lastly, we asked ChatGPT and TikTok why a phone overheats and what to do about it. For this problem, experts’ ratings were similar for both platforms’ advice. But the two services also gave similar advice for diagnosing the cause of overheating (leaving your phone in a hot place) as well as handling it (closing apps you’re not using).
One suggestion offered by ChatGPT but not TikTok was that your phone might be overheating due to using it while it’s charging. Our experts also added that your phone might be overheating due to a faulty battery. Another suggestion not given by either service but offered by our experts was to remove the back cover, battery, SIM card, and micro SD card, if possible, when your phone is overheating.
Tech Support of the Future
The idea of TikTok and ChatGPT being used as search engines and problem-solvers is becoming increasingly recognized. These two platforms are shaping up to be prominent information sources, especially among younger generations. But not all the answers from the AI chatbot or TikTok creators are accurate, as some IT problems can be complex. For now, solving IT issues is best left to the experts.
A variety of sources and methods were used to complete this study. First, we analyzed Google Trends search volume data for 30 common IT problems across all 50 states and the 50 most populous cities in the U.S. in 2022. Additionally, we surveyed 1,000 Americans about their experiences with different sources of tech support. Among these respondents, 59% were men, and 41% were women. Also, 8% were baby boomers, 22% were Gen X, 43% were millennials, and 27% were Gen Z.
To gather advice from TikTok, we analyzed 30 videos for each tech question. To gather the ChatGPT data, we asked the chatbot the same most commonly searched tech questions. Finally, we surveyed 200 IT professionals to evaluate the accuracy of the advice. Of them, 63% had six or more years of tech experience, 27% had three to five years, and 10% had less than three years.
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