Internet Skills: Vital assets in an information society

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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Internet Skills, vital assets in an information society starts with a brief history of communication technologies. It appears that in the course of history, these technologies have changed and have put increasing demands on the people that use them. Moreover, the stakes for not being able to keep up with these technologies have also increased. Special attention is given to the Internet as a contributor to social inequality in contemporary information society. Since the impact of the Internet depends on the skills that determine its use, Internet skills are introduced as the main focus. They increasingly determine people’s positions in the labor market and in social life and therefore should now be considered as a vital assets. Although many Internet skills related concepts have been proposed, these seem to have mainly caused confusion which might be the reason behind the shortage of serious measurements. In this dissertation, a definition is proposed that includes skills that can be considered a prerequisite for typical Internet use. The definition distinguishes between medium‐related and content‐related Internet skills and is used to approach the issue of Internet skills. Guided by the definition, the Internet skills level of the Dutch population is measured in a range of performance tests in which a diverse group of people is asked to complete assignments on the Internet. The results reveal that a large part of the Dutch population is struggling to equip itself with the skills needed to fully participate in contemporary society. This especially goes for less educated populations. While these groups have always been socially disadvantaged, they are now increasingly excluded from all the benefits the Internet has to offer. Concerning age, it appears that older people perform better on the content‐related skills than the younger. Policy makers and new media developers are forced to adjust their beliefs that, with the exception of some seniors, everybody has access to and can use the Internet. Although It will be difficult to fully equip the entire population with a sufficient level of Internet skills, policy recommendations that might help to overcome Internet skills divides are provided in this dissertation.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • van Dijk, Jan A.G.M., Supervisor
  • Peters, O., Advisor
Award date17 Dec 2010
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-3086-6
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2010


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