Digital Inequality

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




Van Deursen, A.J.A.M., Helsper, E.J. & Eynon, R. (2016). Development and validation of the Internet Skills Scale (ISS). Information, Communication & Society, 19(6), 804-823. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2015.1078834


Although a number of instruments have been used to measureInternet skills in nationally representative surveys, there areseveral challenges with the measures available: incompletenessand over-simplification, conceptual ambiguity, and the use of selfreports.Here, we aim to overcome these challenges bydeveloping a set of reliable measures for use in research, practice,and policy evaluations based on a strong conceptual framework.To achieve this goal, we carried out a literature review of skillsrelatedstudies to develop the initial Internet skills framework andassociated instrument. After the development of this instrument,we used a three-fold approach to test the validity and reliability ofthe latent skill constructs and the corresponding items. The firststep consisted of cognitive interviews held in both the UK and theNetherlands. Based on the cognitive interview results, we madeseveral amendments to the proposed skill items to improveclarity. The second step consisted of a pilot survey of digital skills,both in the UK and in the Netherlands. During the final step, weexamined the consistency of the five Internet skill scales and theircharacteristics when measured in a representative sample surveyof Dutch Internet users. The result is a theoretical, empirically andcross-nationally consistent instrument consisting of five types ofInternet skills: operational, navigation information, social, creative,and mobile.