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Comunicar Journal 75: Youth, gender identity and power in digital platforms (Vol. 31 - 2023)

Gendered perspectives on digital skills and digital activities: Comparing non-binary and binary youth


David De Coninck

Leen d’Haenens


Previous research on gender differences in young people’s digital development has shown that boys and girls differ in frequency and type of internet use, but vital gaps in the literature remain. In recent years, gender is increasingly considered to be a multidimensional concept with a growing number of young people identifying as non-binary (i.e. genderfluid, an umbrella term for gender identities that are not conforming to the male/female dichotomy). Non-binary youth more frequently engage with a variety of digital risks such as misinformation, cyberbullying, and co-rumination than binary youth. Despite this, no research so far has investigated how digital development differs between non-binary and binary youth. In this online survey study among adolescents in six European countries (N=6,221), we focus on differences in digital skills and digital activities. Non-binary youth tend to make greater use of the internet for content creation and mental and physical health information than boys and girls. They also report greater content creation skills than boys and girls. Disparities in terms of entertainment and social relationship use are also found. Furthermore, findings on digital skills indicate that non-binary youth closely mirror boys in this regard. We conclude with recommendations for future research that should help bolster our understanding of how digital contexts may predict the development and well-being of non-binary youth.


Non-binary, gender, young people, digital skills, LGBTQ, digital activities

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