Unveiling Insights from the Youth Digital Skills Performance Test Results
Measuring digital skills is a complex and challenging field of research. It is not merely the dimensions of skills that researchers grapple with, but also the quest for the most effective methodology to undertake this endeavour. While prior research has mainly leaned towards employing survey questions to measure digital skills, a lesser-tapped avenue, known as performance testing, emerges as a promising alternative. This blog text delves into the findings of performance tests to measure digital skill levels. In these tests, digital skills cover the following three dimensions: information navigation and processing, communication and interaction, and content creation and production.
Children and young people between the ages of 13 to 18, hailing from six European countries (Estonia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Portugal) took centre stage. Around 100 young individuals from each country performed real-life tasks to measure their digital skills. What makes performance testing so valuable is that it provides a nuanced view on the many skills related problems children encounter. The goal of performance testing is to see how children deal with specific digital skill-related situations. Some of the key findings will be shared below.
Information navigation and processing skills
The findings show that having sufficient levels of information navigation and processing skills should not be taken for granted. Although searching information is often seen as a basic skill, the reality paints a divergent picture. Astonishingly, less than one-third of participants successfully completed all three search tasks. The findings furthermore reveal that children experience most difficulties with performing tasks that centre around evaluating information. Tasks such as selecting the most reliable website or discerning the hallmarkts of a trustworthy platform turn out to be too difficult for most children.
Communication and interaction skills
The task performance of communication and interaction skills shows that what is appropriate and courteous online behaviour is not self-evident for children. Children perform relatively well when it comes to knowing when it is okay or not to share information of others. However, how children deal with information received from others is worrisome. Surprisingly, fewer than one-third of participants considered blocking an unknown person who’s sending nasty comments. Furthermore, more than 40% of the children did not consider name-calling in a group chat as a matter of concern.
Content creation and production
Shifting the focs to content creation and production skills showed that most children had difficulties with designing a presentation slide according to pre-established guidelines. For example, two thirds of the children do not know how to use an image as template or change the colour of an image to black and white. Surprisingly, amidst these hurdles, a silver lining emerged as many children succeeded in uploading and finding a copy-right free image.
In sum, the findings raise doubts whether children have sufficient digital skill levels. In our report, all task performances are shared, and more attention is paid to country level comparisons and differences between children. For example, differences based on gender and ages, and levels of online activities undertaken, and friend and family support structures. To immerse youself in this wealth of insights, access the full report here.