2DD - Investigating the "Second Digital Divide" across European countries: social disparities on digital reading and navigation skills
In the information age, equal access and use of digital resources and new technologies has become a major policy objective in most industrialised countries. Digital proficiency is a key asset for a full and active participation in economic, social and civic life. The research project Investigating the “second digital divide” across European countries: social disparities on digital reading and navigation skills aims at shedding light on the socioeconomic gap in use and ability to take full advantage of ICTs with a specific focus on youths’ digital reading competencies and internet navigation skills. The empirical analyses are based on data from the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) and point to the existence of pronounced gender, migration-background and social-background gaps in digital reading across several European countries. The largest part of these digital reading gaps are due to differences in print reading skills. Hence, inequality in digital reading competences is greatly attributable to students’ development of standard competences and not to digital ones. Nonetheless, some significant gaps in digital reading and internet navigation skills persist even net of print reading skills, this pointing to the existence of “digital-specific” gaps. At a descriptive level, the results also indicate that the second digital divide is correlated with some features of the national education systems—such as the overall quality of the education system—but that, in general, digital skills are more dependent on individual characteristics of the students rather than on schools’ factors.
The research is funded by EUN Schoolnet (Brussels). The main research findings appeared on the first issue of the European Schoolnet Perspectives series.