Volume index - Journal index - Article index - Map ---- Back

Comunicar Journal 74: Education for digital citizenship: Algorithms, automation and communication (Vol. 31 - 2023)

Digital competence among young people in Spain: A gender divide analysis


Elisenda Estanyol

Mireia Montaña

Pedro Fernández-de-Castro

Daniel Aranda

Leila Mohammadi


Datafication in today’s communicative ecosystem poses a challenge to media and digital literacy, especially with regard to young people’s participation and civic and democratic engagement. We address this issue using the notion of digital citizenship, in order to study the gender digital divide as it relates to competence (i.e., skills and knowledge) and the possibility of leveraging said competence to promote civic education grounded in gender equality in the digital environment. For this study, we surveyed a representative sample of 600 young people between the ages of 16 and 18 in Spain to gauge their digital competence through three variables: technical skills, informational skills and critical knowledge. We then performed a descriptive analysis resulting in percentages, means and standard deviations and a bivariate analysis using significance testing (T-tests) between the above variables and the gender variable. Results show a relative balance between men and women in technical and informational digital skills, albeit tipped slightly in favour of women. By contrast, men claim to have more critical knowledge. Based on these results, we discuss the need to consider the contributions of feminist theories in the field of technology to develop proposals for teaching digital competence that encourage active digital citizenship based on gender equality.


Digital citizenship, citizenship education, media literacy, critical thinking, gender equality, young people

PDF file in Spanish

PDF file in English


Aranda, D., Sánchez-Navarro, J., & Mohammadi, L. (2020). Perception and self-assessment of digital skills and gaming among youth: A dataset from Spain. Data in Brief, 28, 104957. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2019.104957

Bali, M. (2019). Reimagining digital literacies from a feminist perspective in a postcolonial context. Media and Communication, 7(2), 69-81. https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v7i2.1935

Binder, I., & García-Gago, S. (2020). Politizar la tecnología. Radios comunitarias y derecho a la comunicación en los territorios digitales. Ediciones Jinete Insomne. https://bit.ly/3wCVGNI

Choi, M. (2016). A concept analysis of digital citizenship for democratic citizenship education in the digital age. Theory and Research in Social Education, 44(4), 565-607. https://doi.org/10.1080/00933104.2016.1210549

Cockburn, C. (1983). Brothers: Male dominance and technological change. Pluto Press. https://bit.ly/3NtLU67

Cohen, J.N. (2018). Exploring echo-systems: how algorithms shape immersive media environments. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 10(2), 139-151. https://doi.org/10.23860/JMLE-2018-10-2-8

Darvin, R. (2018). Social class and the unequal digital literacies of youth. Language and Literacy, 20(3), 26-45. https://doi.org/10.20360/langandlit29407

De-Vicente-Domínguez, A.M., Carballeda-Camacho, M.R., & Cestino-González, E. (2022). The analysis of the informational competencies of students entering university: a case study [Análisis de las competencias mediáticas del alumnado que ingresa en la universidad: Un estudio de caso en estudiantes de comunicación]. Vivat Academia, 155, 151-171. https://doi.org/10.15178/va.2022.155.e1375

Díez-Gutiérrez, E.J. (2022). Concientización. In T. García-Gómez (Ed.), Palabras y pedagogía desde Paulo Freire. La Muralla. https://bit.ly/3vCodCf

Dubois, E., & Blank, G. (2018). The echo chamber is overstated: The moderating effect of political interest and diverse media. Information, Communication & Society, 21(5), 729-745. https://doi.org/10-1080/1369118X.2018.1428656

D’Ignazio, C., & Klein, L.F. (2020). Data feminism. The MIT Press. https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/11805.001.0001

Fernández-de-Castro, P., Aranda, D., Moyano, S., & Sampedro, V. (2021). Digital youth work: A systematic review with a proposal. Social Work Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2021.1971187

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Continuum. https://bit.ly/3zZx3g0

Gleason, B., & Von-Gillern, S. (2018). Digital citizenship with social media: Participatory practices of teaching and learning in secondary education. Educational Technology & Society, 21(1), 200-212. https://bit.ly/3S8D94B

Gui, M., & Argentin, G. (2011). Digital skills of internet natives: Different forms of digital literacy in a random sample of northern Italian high school students. New Media & Society, 13(6), 963-980. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444810389751

Gurung, L. (2018). The digital divide: An inquiry from feminist perspectives. Dhaulagiri Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, 12, 50-57. https://doi.org/10.3126/dsaj.v12i0.22179

Gutiérrez-Martín, A., & Tyner, K. (2012). Media education, media literacy and digital competence. [Educación para los medios, alfabetización mediática y competencia digital]. Comunicar, 19(38), 31-39. https://doi.org/10.3916/C38-2012-02-03

Hargittai, E. (2002). Second-level digital divide: Differences in people's online skills. First Monday, 7(4), 1-19. https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v7i4.942

Helsper, E.J. (2021). The digital disconnect: The social causes and consequences of digital inequalities. SAGE Publications Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781526492982

Hooks, B. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. Routledge. https://bit.ly/3Ntc4pG

Jackman, J.A., Gentile, D.A., Cho, N.J., & Park, Y. (2021). Addressing the digital skills gap for future education. Nature Human Behaviour, 5(5), 542-545. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-021-01074-z

Kovacs, A. (2017). Reading surveillance through a gendered lens: Some theory. Internet Democracy Project. https://bit.ly/3BviMZs

Loh, J. (2019). What is feminist philosophy of technology? A critical overview and a plea for a feminist technoscientific utopia. In J. Loh, & M. Coeckelbergh (Eds.), Feminist philosophy of technology (pp. 1-24). J.B. Metzler. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-476-04967-4_1

Martinovic, D., Freiman, V., Lekule, C.S., & Yang, Y. (2019). The roles of digital literacy in social life of youth. In A. Ray (Ed.), Advanced methodologies and technologies in library science, information management, and scholarly inquiry (pp. 103-117). IGI Global. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-5225-7659-4.ch009

Mérida, J.A. (2019). Ciberfeminismo: Una perspectiva desde las aulas. Íber, 94, 51-56. http://bit.ly/2mLZESV

Mihailidis, P., Shrestova, S., & Fromm, M. (2021). The values of transformative media pedagogies. In P. Mihailidis, S. Shrestova, & M. Fromm (Eds.), Transformative media pedagogies. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003031246-2

Pangrazio, L. (2016). Reconceptualising critical digital literacy. Discourse: Studies in the cultural politics of education, 37(2), 163-174. https://doi.org/10.1080/01596306.2014.942836

Panke, S., & Stephens, J. (2018). Beyond the echo chamber: Pedagogical tools for civic engage¬ment discourse and reflection. Educational Technology & Society, 21(1), 248-263. https://bit.ly/3vpDOoy

Peña, P., & Varon, J. (2019). Decolonising AI: A transfeminist approach to data and social justice. In A. Finlay (Ed.), Global Information Society Watch 2019: Artificial intelligence: Human rights, social justice and development. Association for Progressive Communications (APC). https://bit.ly/3oFDWfU

Perera, S. (2022). White paper on feminist internet research. Association for Progressive Communications. https://bit.ly/3MGFWyH

Porat, E., Blau, I., & Barak, A. (2018). Measuring digital literacies: Junior high-school students' perceived competencies versus actual performance. Computers & Education, 126, 23-36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2018.06.030

Prendes-Espinosa, M., García-Tudela, P., & Solano-Fernández, I. (2020). Gender equality and ICT in the context of formal education: A systematic review. [Igualdad de género y TIC en contextos educativos formales: Una revisión sistemática]. Comunicar, 28(63), 9-19. https://doi.org/10.3916/C63-2020-01

Pötzsch, H. (2019). Critical digital literacy: Technology in education beyond issues of user competence and labour-market qualifications. TripleC, 17(2), 221-240. https://doi.org/10.31269/triplec.v17i2.1093

Ragnedda, M. (2016). The third digital divide: A webberian approach to digital inequalities. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315606002

Richardson, J.W., Martin, F., & Sauers, N. (2021). Systematic review of 15 years of research on digital citizenship: 2004–2019. Learning, Media and Technology, 46(4), 498-514. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2021.1941098

Sánchez-Duarte, J.M., & Fernández-Romero, D. (2017). Subactivismo feminista y repertorios de acción colectiva digitales: Prácticas ciberfeministas en Twitter. Profesional de la Información, 26(5), 894-902. https://doi.org/10.3145/epi.2017.sep.11

Valtonen, T., Tedre, M., Mäkitalo, K., & Vartianen, H. (2019). Media literacy education in the age of machine learning. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 11(2), 20-36. https://doi.org/10.23860/JMLE-2019-11-2-2

Van-Deursen, A.J.A.M., & Helsper, E.J. (2015). The third-level digital divide: Who benefits most from being online? In L. Robinson, S.R. Cotten, J. Schulz, T.M. Hale, & A. Williams (Eds.), Communication and information technologies annual: Vol. 10. (pp. 29-52). Emerald Group Publishing Limited. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2050-206020150000010002

Van-Deursen, A.J.A.M., Helsper, E.J., & Eynon, R. (2014). Measuring digital skills. From digital skills to tangible outcomes project report. The London School of Economics and Political Science, University of Twente & Oxford Internet Institute University of Oxford. https://bit.ly/3NxnKYi

Van-Deursen, A.J.A.M., Helsper, E.J., & Eynon, R. (2016). Development and validation of the Internet Skills Scale (ISS). Information, Communication & Society, 19(6), 804-823. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2015.1078834

Van-Deursen, A.J.A.M., Van-der-Zeeuw, A., De-Boer, P., Jansen, G.P., & Van-Rompay, T (2021). Development and validation of the Internet of Things SkillsScale (IoTSS). Information, Communication & Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2021.1900320

Van-Dijck, J. (2014). Datafication, dataism and dataveillance: Big Data between scientific paradigm and ideology. Surveillance & Society, 12(2), 197-208. https://doi.org/10.24908/ss.v12i2.4776

Van-Leent, L., & Mills, K. (2017). A queer critical media literacies framework in a digital age. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 61(4), 401-411. https://doi.org/10.1002/jaal.711

Vod?, A.I., Cautisanu, C., Gr?dinaru, C., T?n?sescu, C., & de Moraes, G.H.S.M. (2022). Exploring Digital Literacy Skills in Social Sciences and Humanities Students. Sustainability, 14(5), 2483. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14052483

Wajcman, J. (2004). Technofeminism. Polity Press. https://bit.ly/38Hhdvy

Wajcman, J. (2010). Feminist theories of technology. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34(1), 143-152. https://doi.org/10.1093/cje/ben057

Weston, T.J., Dubow, W.M., & Kaminsky, A. (2019). Predicting women's persistence in computer science-and technology-related majors from high school to college. ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), 20(1), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1145/3343195

Yue, A., Nekmat, E., & Beta, A.R. (2019). Digital literacy through digital citizenship: Online civic participation and public opinion evaluation of youth minorities in Southeast Asia. Media and Communication, 7(2), 100-114. https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v7i2.1899