Using the internet: skill related problems in users’ online behavior

Alexander J.A.M. van Deursen*, Jan A.G.M. van Dijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

248 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


This study extends the conventional and superficial notion of measuring digital skills by proposing definitions for operational, formal, information and strategic skills. The main purpose was to identify individual skill related problems that users experience when navigating the Internet. In particular, lower levels of education and aging seem to contribute to the amount of experienced operational and formal skill related problems. With respect to information skills, higher levels of education seem to perform best. Age did not seem to contribute to information skill related problems. Results did reveal that age had a negative effect on selecting irrelevant search results. Individual strategic Internet skill related problems occurred often, with the exception of subjects with higher levels of education. Younger subjects experienced far less operational and formal skill related problems, but there was no difference regarding information and strategic skill related problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-402
Number of pages10
JournalInteracting with computers
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Digital divide
  • Information literacy
  • Computer literacy
  • Digital inequality
  • Digital skills


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