• Do people underestimate their own digital skills?

     Joy Deane updated 2 years, 3 months ago 2 Members · 2 Posts
  • Anke Bracke

    16 December 2021 at 2:13 pm

    The DIGNITY survey in Flanders shows that 18 % of the inhabitants have low (or no) digital skills. This group is at risk for digital exclusion. 🖱

    These digital skills were measured by performing actual tasks on a digital interface. Participants were asked to fulfill eight basic digital tasks. Those who completed four or less of these tasks correctly were considered having low digital skills.

    Knowing this, the 18% with low (or no) digital skills is a surprisingly high proportion of the population, no? In a world where the digital transformation is well under way. And the current COVID-19 crisis has only accelerated this trend.

    However, it’s particularly interesting to note the difference with existing data sources assessing digital skills in Flanders, like the King Baudoin Foundation (Brotcorne & Mariën, 2020). Their research resulted in no less than 38% with low or no digital skills, which is much higher than the results from the DIGNITY survey.

    👉 How is that possible and what can we learn from these results?

    Different methodologies lead to different results. Obviously. The difference in results is most likely due to the fact that the digital skills in the research from the King Baudoin Foundation was based on self-reported digital skills instead of actual observed digital skills. It might indicate that people in Flanders underestimate their digital abilities.

    Can you think of other reasons? And how would you estimate your own digital skills? Would you be able to perform basic tasks on a digital interface or not?

    • This discussion was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by  Anke Bracke.
  • Joy Deane

    20 January 2022 at 2:51 pm

    Hi Anke,

    Thanks for bringing this up! Self-report vs actual performance is part of the picture. But it also depends on the definition of “low digital skills”.

    In particular, the digital interface tests used in the survey were REALLY basic. So getting 4 or fewer of them correct clearly indicates low digital skills. But getting 5 or 6 correct doesn’t mean that the people have good skills. Given the simple nature of the tests, these people are also likely to struggle with some (and perhaps many) interfaces. Even getting them all correct provides no guarantee that people can use more complicated digital tools. It’s quite possible (even likely) that some of these people have “low” digital skills in practice in the real world.

    Of course, self-report in general is inaccurate and people do underestimate (or overestimate) their skills. There’s been some interesting research indicating that men (in general) are more likely to overestimate their skills and women to underestimate them.

    Happy to chat more on this topic if you like.


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