Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

A Longitudinal Perspective on Digital Skills for Everyday Life: Measurement and Empirical Evidence

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Abstract:  Our everyday lives are increasingly digital: We meet with friends, search for information, watch films, and buy goods online. This generates data that is automatically collected and analyzed. The ability to deal with the resulting algorithmically selected and personalized content is essential to benefit from digital technologies, and for this, digital skills are crucial. Studies focusing on digital skills, their antecedents, and consequences have mostly relied on self-reported, one-time measurements. A deeper understanding of the measures of digital skills and the role such digital skills play in everyday life and over time is needed. To address these gaps, this article compares self-reported measures of digital skills and knowledge of datafication and algorithmization in everyday internet use and maps the evolution of their relevance for digital everyday life. To do so, this articles analyzes data from multiple cross-sectional surveys conducted from 2011 to 2023 with representative samples of Swiss internet users. First, the findings indicate that self-reported skills reflect internet users’ knowledge of algorithmization and datafication in everyday internet use. This renders the measure a decent tool for empirical studies. Second, the findings show that digital skills are associated with socioeconomic background, cyber-optimistic attitudes, usage time, use of social media, health trackers, voice assistants, ChatGPT, and feeling included in the information society. These relationships varied over time. This article provides longitudinal empirical evidence on the relevance of digital skills in a highly digitized country. The findings highlight that promoting digital skills can contribute to fostering more inclusive digital societies.

Keywords:  algorithmization; datafication; digital inclusion; digital inequality; digital skills; online survey; skills measurement



© Kiran Kappeler. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.