Digital Inequality

research on skills, uses and outcomes of Internet technology - by Alexander van Deursen




Van Deursen, A.J.A.M. & Van Dijk, J.A.G.M. (2016). Modeling Traditional Literacy, Internet Skills and Internet Usage: An Empirical Study. Interacting with Computers, 28(1), 13-26. doi:10.1093/iwc/iwu027



This paper focuses on the relationships among traditional literacy (reading, writing, and understanding text), medium-related Internet skills (consisting of operational and formal skills), content-related Internet skills (consisting of information and strategic skills), and Internet usage types (information- and career-directed Internet use and entertainment use). We conducted a large-scale survey that resulted in a dataset of 1,008 respondents. The results reveal the following: (1) traditional literacy has a direct effect on formal and information Internet skills and an indirect effect on strategic Internet skills, and (2) differences in types of Internet usage are indirectly determined by traditional literacy and directly affected by Internet skills, such that higher levels of strategic Internet skills result in more information- and career-directed Internet use. Traditional literacy is a pre-condition for the employment of Internet skills, and Internet skills should not be considered an easy means of disrupting historically grounded inequalities caused by differences in traditional literacy.