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Digital skills and social media use: how Internet skills are related to different types of Facebook use among ‘digital natives’

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Based on the idea that Internet use can be conceptualized in terms of depth (frequency) and width (differentiated) uses of the Web, this study explored how socio-demographic factors and digital skills are related to frequency and types of Facebook use among young adults. It used a face-to-face representative survey conducted in the three main urban areas of Chile among a sample of 18-to 29-year olds. The results found that men and more educated young people had higher levels of skills, confirming that the so-called ‘digital natives’ are not a monolithic group. They also revealed that digital skills did not predict frequency of Facebook use. Furthermore, lower educated young people tended to use Facebook more frequently. Although these results go against the long-established digital divide research, traditional digital gaps emerged when types of use were analyzed. While more educated and skillful individuals tended to use Facebook for informational and mobilizing purposes, socio-demographic factors and skills did not make a difference in Facebook use for social purposes.
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Keywords: Digital skills; Facebook; digital divide; digital inequality; digital natives; social media; survey; young people

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: College of Communication and Literature, Universidad Diego Portales, Vergara 240, Santiago, Chile

Publication date: August 2, 2016

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