Succinct Survey Measures of Web-Use Skills

Authors: Eszter Hargittai and Yu-li Patrick Hsieh

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Citation: Hargittai, E. & Hsieh, Y.P. (2012). Succinct Survey Measures of Web-Use Skills. Social Science Computer Review. 30(1):95-107.


There is a dearth of survey instruments for measuring Internet skills. This paper presents results from additional implementations of a previously-developed index measure. It considers the performance of the original instrument over time as well as shortened versions of it on two surveys of different populations. Drawing on analyses of five different data sets, the paper makes recommendations for various length survey items for measuring people's Web-use skills.


  • Introduction
  • Brief review of the development of the index
  • Recent implementation of the full instrument
  • Considerations for the development of shorter item lists
  • The Web-use skill measure index applied in other studies
  • Recommendations for shorter item lists
  • Conclusion


The authors appreciate the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for making possible the main project upon which this paper draws. They are also grateful to Noshir Contractor for access to his data set and John Horrigan for his work on the FCC data set. The authors thank Ron Anderson and the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments. They appreciate the assistance of Waleeta Canon, Gina Walejko, Ericka Menchen–Trevino, Jessica Diamond, Cassi Saari and the rest of the undergraduate and graduate research assistants in the Web Use Project group from 2007-2010 with data collection and data entry. The first author also thanks the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society for enabling work on this project. The support of Ann Feldman, Tom Moss, and Karen Mossberger is also kindly acknowledged.

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