Projects

Youth Skills (ySKILLS)

About the project

Youth Skills (acronym: ySKILLS) starts from the observation that digitisation is changing society and requires a new set of digital skills, which many children and adolescents currently do not master. This can negatively affect their educational, informational and social inclusion and wellbeing. Longitudinal and robust academic research on children’s and adolescents’ digital uses, the use context and its impact is lacking on national and European levels.

ySKILLS examines risks and opportunities related to children’s and adolescents’ (aged 12 to 17) ICT uses and their digital skills to understand how to purposefully use ICTs towards greater cognitive, physical, psychological and social wellbeing. We offer a critical perspective on the notion of skills itself: by extending traditional conceptions of skills, by recognising children’s critical views on their skills as young citizens with agency, voice and rights. ySKILLS will predict which children are more at risk of having low levels of wellbeing because of their ICT use, and to understand how digital skills can function as building resilience against negative impacts. This results in a comprehensive, evidence-based explanatory and foresight model predicting the complex impacts of ICT use on children’s and adolescents’ wellbeing in Europe, and the role of digital skills that can enhance their wellbeing.

ySKILLS will conduct a longitudinal three-wave survey in six countries, selected based on their ranking as low, medium and high on the 2018 Digital Economy and Society Index. Adding to this survey, cognitive wellbeing will be investigated with fMRI in two countries. ICT use patterns will be analysed among at-risk groups in in-depth studies in six complementary countries. Through an effective dissemination strategy and practice and policy recommendations, framed in terms of children’s rights, the interdisciplinary ySKILLS consortium will strengthen the necessary interaction among the relevant stakeholders and practitioners involved.

Our involvement

IRTIS team will lead WP2: Integration of Theories and Methods: Towards a New Theoretical Model. The main objectives of this work package are

  • To identify the evidence as well as the gaps regarding the mediating role played by multiple dimensions of digital skills in children’s and adolescents’ wellbeing.
  • To understand the associations among the social and psychological antecedents of digital skills and consequences for children’s and adolescents’ wellbeing.
  • To aim for methodological integration throughout the ySKILLS project by elaborating and coordinating the various research methods and designs used in all WPs.
  • To aim for theoretical integration with a focus on the development of the comprehensive theoretical model that will optimise synergies and complementarity among the various disciplines and all of the WPs.

IRTIS team will also participate in WP4: Longitudinal Quantitative Data Collection. The main objectives of this work package are:

  • To develop a robust longitudinal survey to measure short- and medium-term impact of ICTs on children and adolescents by applying a set of different methods for testing different dimensions of ICT uses and digital skills.
  • To validate the survey instrument through cognitive interviews and performance tests with a subsample of children and adolescents in six countries.
  • To develop a performance test instrument for digital skills that can be used by educational institutions. The tests will be conducted among a subsample of children and adolescents from the longitudinal survey in six countries after the second wave.
  • To examine in daily life and over time the dynamic reciprocal relations between intensive ICT user types (i.e., intensive gamers, intensive social media users) and the development of academic achievement and psychological and social wellbeing.
  • To determine how ICT use of a subsample representing different ICT-use profiles (i.e., multi-taskers, social media users, gamers and low ICT users) is affected by attention skills, distractibility and related brain activity (i.e., cognitive wellbeing) measured during attention-demanding linguistic and mathematical tasks in non-distracted and distracted conditions.