Examining the Interplay of Sociodemographic and Sociotechnical Factors on Users’ Perceived Digital Skills

Massimo Ragnedda, Maria Laura Ruiu, Daniel Calderón-Gómez

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Abstract

The rapid pace of technological advancements of the last decades, accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic, has increased the importance of digital skills for individuals, businesses, and society. However, despite efforts to increase digital ownership and educational initiatives, the digital divide remains a persistent issue and a barrier to social inclusion. Digital exclusion is not limited to access vs. no access but encompasses a spectrum of participation influenced by factors such as geographical location, skills, motivation, and identity. The study explores what sociodemographic and sociotechnical aspects shape users’ digital skills. It is based on an online survey of English internet users aged between 20–55 with school-aged children (N = 2,004), to measure their digital skills across six dimensions and analyzes the relationship between these skills and sociodemographic and sociotechnical variables. Results show that among the sociodemographic aspects, including gender, age, education level, employment status, income, and residential area, only income significantly contributes to distinguishing groups per level of digital skills. The study also shows that motivation gap, access gap, usage gap, and social support, are all associated with individuals’ digital skills.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8167
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalMedia and Communication
Volume12
Early online date29 May 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 May 2024

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