Online skills of the Dutch adolescent in the age of 14 to 16: models on internet skills combined to test information-, communication- and strategic-skills in an online context

Jansman, D.J. (2012) Online skills of the Dutch adolescent in the age of 14 to 16: models on internet skills combined to test information-, communication- and strategic-skills in an online context.

Abstract:Adolescents these days grow up with internet as ‘an absoluteness’ and are often seen as digital natives. 99.1% of all adolescents have access to the internet at home, and they use the internet for many purposes. Despite the high percentages of access to, and usage of the internet, several researchers reject the termof digital natives. Some speak of a second digital divide in which groups may lack the skill to successfully use the internet. This second digital divide can also have consequences for the quality of the web in the future. Two research questions are proposed: 1) What is the level of Dutch secondary school students on Online (information, communication and strategic) skills? 2) Does the level of these three online skills differ between educational attainment and gender? The second research question is divided in six sub questions focusing on the possible difference in score between educational level and gender. Adolescents are in a difficult stage of their lives. Physically they are maturing or even full grown, but psychologically they are still evolving and developing, and not always able to grasp consequences of their actions. They are looking for their identity and independency, and maturing in sexuality. The attraction of the internet on the adolescent is explainable with Uses and Gratifications Theory.With online activities moving from searching and collecting information (web 1.0) to communication and online collaboration (web 2.0), adolescents, can satisfy curiosity, need for entertainment and socialization.With all these aspects of internet usage, a good insight in the skills to use this medium in its broadest form is needed. Therefore this research combines the ‘Internet skills’ model of Van Deursen and Van Dijk (2009) and four forms from the participatory cultures of Jenkins (2009) to create a new model of ‘Online skills’. This model divides three online skills: 1) Online Communication Skill; Making contact, and expressing online. 2) Online Information skill: Searching and evaluating information online 3) Online Strategic Skill; Solving problems through online collaboration An experiment and a survey were conducted among a sample of 92 respondents, 59 female and 33 male subjects. All students were randomly selected over age (3rd and 4th grade), all from the same secondary school. Respondents first had to answer 34 survey questions regarding the use of the internet and several aspects of their usage of social networking sites (SNS). After this, 6 assignments had to be made with the help of the computer and Internet. Respondents had to search for information, websites, and personal profiles or group pages on SNS. The whole test took on average 35 minutes of their time. Results show that higher educational groups score slightly better in information skills. Difference is not significant but does appear in previous research. Communication skills show differences in several sub skills: Lower educational groups spend more time online and on SNS and also exchange more messages, but they score lower in message quality and receive more negative reactions. Scores on strategic skills, tested with more complex assignments show that adolescents tend to be a bit naïve and easy-going, they mostly rely on a single source. Females appear to score better on this strategic skill. Overall 3 difference in gender is little, but also proven in some small sub skills within communication skills which supports previous research on difference in gender and mediated communication. The exploratory nature of this research comes with some limitations. The problem of social desirability in this case might occur within the survey questions regarding accepting and receiving friendrequests or public reactions. Therefore a recommendation for future research on online skills is to develop and use assignments which can be analyzed more thoroughly, and are focused on that particular skill. A combination of severalmethods is advised. This study shows that adolescents aren’t automatically digital natives. Especially information and strategic skills need to be developed, preferably in an educational setting.With this study hopefully a first step is taken to focus on the broad spectrumof online skills of adolescents in both educational as leisure settings. In both settings all the three skills (information, communication and strategic) are needed to gain benefit from internet usage.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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