Digital Literacy more than just about access – A Belgian Case Study

Early 2016 the Gezinsbond assigned an independent market research agency (Market Probe) to conduct standardized face to face interviews with members of families living in Belgium, to get a clear view on their existing digital skills. 1015 persons, claiming to be the most responsible for administrative tasks in their household, responded to our questions.

When talking about the digital divide, the first question is about having access to the digital world. According to our study about 14% of the population does not yet have access to a computer or to internet – this group finds itself completely excluded from the digital society. The study also shows that there is another, more deeper dimension to the digital divide: regardless of having access to internet it looks at the skills people need to move around in this digital world. This dimension of the digital gap is more complex as people are always skilled in some digital or financial operations but not in others: they can send emails or perform online payments, but don’t know how to submit an online official document or install a virus scan. The level of skills is very individually colored and nuanced. The study enables us to identify certain patterns that can help us finding the right answers on how to fill both dimensions of the digital gap.