Understanding Age-Related Differences in the Development of Digital Communication and Information Skills in Polish Adolescents

Keywords: digital communication skills, information digital skills, age-related changes, Polish adolescents, longitudinal study


Research objectives: This study examines the role of digital skills in the personal and social development of young people. It aims to measure and understand these skills among the younger generation, while identifying ways to improve their development.

Research methods: The data comes from the ySkills project under Horizon 2020, a longitudinal study conducted in six countries, including Estonia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Poland and Portugal. Specifically, we have analyzed data on Polish youth from 2021 and 2022. The sample includes 609 individuals aged 11 to 18, i.e. in the entire age range. Self-report scales assess digital skills, including technical abilities, information handling, interaction, communication and content creation. Results from the entire first wave in Poland (N=1161) are also included.

Context: In today’s digital world, digital skills are essential for personal development and social engagement. This study focuses on Poland, where digital literacy is crucial for young people. It aims to shed light on the digital competences of Polish youth.

Findings: The study found that teenagers use the Internet mainly for social interaction and are comfortable using digital communication tools, such as email, instant messaging and social media. However, it stresses the need for further education in evaluating information available on the Internet and identifying reliable sources. Gender differences were observed, with boys demonstrating greater skills in navigating and processing information, which highlights the need for additional research to address gender disparities in digital skills.

Conclusions and Recommendations: This study highlights the importance of digital skills for young people’s development and integration into society. To bridge the digital literacy gap, we recommend targeted educational interventions that improve critical thinking and source evaluation skills. Further research and objective assessments are key to comprehensively eliminating the gender gap in digital skills. It is important to be aware of the limitations of the study, including the reliance on self-reporting and the potential impact of COVID-19 on the sample. Future efforts should aim for more robust and objective means of assessing digital skills among young people in Poland.


Bargh, J.A., McKenna, K.Y.A, Fitzsimons, G.M. (2002). Can you see the real me? Activation and expression of the ‘true self’ on the Internet. Journal of Social Issues 58(1):33–48. doi: 10.1111/1540-4560.00247.

Batorski, D. (2015). Technologie i media w domach i życiu Polaków [Technologies and media in the homes and lives of Poles]. In: J. Czapiński, T. Panek (Eds.), Diagnoza społeczna 2015: Warunki i jakość życia Polaków [Social Diagnosis 2015: Conditions and quality of life of Poles], Rada Monitoringu Społecznego, (pp. 355-377). doi: 10.5709/ce.1897-9254.192.

Batorski, D., Płoszaj, A., Współpraca, W., Jasiewicz, J., Czerniawska, D., & Peszat, K. (2012). Diagnoza i rekomendacje w obszarze kompetencji cyfrowych społeczeństwa i przeciwdziałania wykluczeniu cyfrowemu w kontekście zaprogramowania wsparcia w latach 2014–2020 [Diagnosis and recommendations in the area of social digital competence and counteracting digital exclusion in the context of planning support for 2014–2020]. Warsaw: Ministry of Regional Development.

Council Recommendation on Key Competences for Life- long Learning, 22 May 2018, ST 9009 2018 INIT.

Crone, E. A., & Dahl, R. E. (2012). Understanding adolescence as a period of social–affective engagement and goal flexibility. Nature reviews neuroscience, 13(9), 636-650. doi: 10.1038/nrn3313.

Donoso, V., Pyżalski J., Walter N., Retzmann, N., Iwanicka A., d' Haenens, L., Bartkowiak, K. (2020). Report of Interviews with Experts on Digital Skills in Schools and on the Labour Market. Zenodo. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.5226910.

Elphick, M. (2018). The impact of embedded iPad use of students perceptions of their digital capabilities. Education Sciences, 8(3), 102. doi: 10.3390/edusci8030102.

European Commission (2012). Key Data on Education in Europe 2012. Brussels: Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA P9 Eurydice). https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-statistical-books/-/978-92-9201-242-7. doi: 10.2797/77414.

Giedd, J.N. (2012). The digital revolution and adolescent brain evolution. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51, 101–105. doi: 10.1016/j/jadohealth.2012.06.002.

Haddon, L., Cino, D., Doyle, M., Livingstone, S., Mascheroni, G., & Stoilova, M. (2020). Children’s and young people’s digital skills: a systematic evidence review. Zenodo. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.6921674.

Helsper EJ, Schneider LS, Van Deursen AJAM, et al. (2021) The Youth Digital Skills Indicator. ySKILLS. Available at: https://zenodo.org/record/4608010. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.4476540.

Hudimova, A.K. (2020). Modern adolescent’s psychological well-being and social media overload. Vector of modern pedagogical and psychological science in Ukraine and EU countries (pp.182-198). doi: 10.30525/978-9934-588-37-2.1.11.

ITU (International Telecommunication Union) (2018) Measuring the Information Society Report, Volume 1. Geneva, Switzerland: ITU Publications. http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/publications/misr2018/MISR-2018-Vol-1-E.pdf.

Knapp, M.L., Hall, J.A. (2010). Nonverbal communication in human interaction (Seventh.), MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Lange, R. (red.) (2021). Nastolatki 3.0. Raport z ogólnopolskiego badania uczniów [Teens 3.0: Report of a nationwide survey of students]. https://www.nask.pl/pl/raporty/raporty/4295,RAPORT-Z-BADAN-NASTOLATKI-30-2021.html.

Martinek, T., Hellison, D. (2016). Teaching personal and social responsibility: Past, present and future. Journal of Physal Education and Recreation& Dance, 87(5), 9-13. doi: 10.1080/07303084.2016.1157382.

Piotrowski, K., Ziółkowska, B., & Wojciechowska, J. (2014). Rozwój nastolatka Wczesna faza dorastania [Development of a teenager: Early adolescence]. In A. I. Brzezińska (Ed.), Niezbędnik Dobrego Nauczyciela [The Essentials of a Good Teacher] (Vol. 5, Rozwój w okresie dzieciństwa i dorastania [Vol. 5, Development in Childhood and Adolescence]), Instytut Badań Edukacyjnych.

Piotrowski, K., Ziółkowska, B., & Wojciechowska, J. (2014b). Rozwój nastolatka. Późna faza dorastania [Development of a teenager: Late adolescence]. In A. I. Brzezińska (Ed.), Niezbędnik Dobrego Nauczyciela [The Essentials of a Good Teacher] (Vol. 6, Rozwój w okresie dzieciństwa i dorastania [Vol. 6, Development in Childhood and Adolescence]), Instytut Badań Edukacyjnych.

Plebańska, M. (2021). Kompetencje cyfrowe i ich cyfrowy rozwój [Digital competencies and their digital development]. Difin.

Pyżalski, J. (2019). Dzieci i młodzież jako użytkownicy internetu – podstawowe informacje [Children and adolescents as internet users - basic information]. In: J. Pyżalski, A. Zdrodowska, Ł. Tomczyk, K. Abramczuk, Polskie badanie EU Kids Online 2018 [Polish EU Kids Online survey 2018] (pp. 17-30). Adam Mickiewicz University Scientific Publishers.

Pyżalski, J., Zdrodowska A., Tomczyk, Ł., Ambramczuk, K. (2019). Polskie badanie EU Kids Online 2018. Najważniejsze wyniki i wnioski [Poland’s EU Kids Online 2018 survey: key findings and conclusions]. Adam Mickiewicz University Scientific Publishers.

Schleicher, A. (2018). Insights and interpretations. Pisa 2018, 10. OECD Publishing.

Smahel, D., Machackova, H., Mascheroni, G., Dedkova, L., Staksrud, E., Ólafsson, K., Livingstone, S., and Hasebrink, U. (2020). EU Kids Online 2020: Survey results from 19 countries. EU Kids Online. doi: 10.21953/lse.47fdeqj01ofo.

Somerville, L. H. (2013). The teenage brain: Sensitivity to social evaluation. Current directions in psychological science, 22(2), 121-127. doi: 10.1177/0963721413476512.

Swanson, E.A., Barnes, M., Fall, A.-M., Roberts, G. (2017). Predictors of Reading Comprehension Among Struggling Readers Who Exhibit Differing Levels of Inattention and Hyperactivity. Reading and Writing Quarterly, September 2017. doi: 10.1080/10573569.2017.1359712.

Teryushkova, Yu.Yu. (2016). Communicative competence as a factor in the successful adaptation of students with disabilities. Psychologist, 6, 54-64. doi: 10.7256/2409-8701.2016.6.19806.

Timnea, A.C., Potop, L., Timnea, O.C., Potop, V. Jurat, V. (2018). Physiological Features of Obesity in Children and Adolescents. Journal of Physical Education and Sport, 18 (Supplement issue 5), Art 332, pp. 2199 – 2206. doi: 10.7752/jpes.2018.s5332.

Valtonen, J., Kyhälä, A., & Reunamo, J. (2021). Recreational screen time, sedentary behavior, and moderate to vigorous physical activity in 11-year-old children. Journal of Physical Education and Sport, Vol. 21 (3), Art 197, pp. 1553-1560. doi: 1 0.7752/jpes.2021.03197.

Van Deursen, A. J., Helsper, E. J., & Eynon, R. (2016). Development and validation of the Internet Skills Scale (ISS). Information, communication & society, 19(6), 804-823.

Van Deursen, A. J., & Helsper, E. J. (2018). Collateral benefits of Internet use: Explaining the diverse outcomes of engaging with the Internet. new media & society, 20(7), 2333-2351.

Van Laar, E., Van Deursen, A. J., Van Dijk, J. A., & De Haan, J. (2017). The relation between 21st-century skills and digital skills: A systematic literature review. Computers in Human Behavior, 72, 577-588. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2017.03.010.

Van Laar, E., van Deursen, A. J., van Dijk, J. A., & de Haan, J. (2018). 21st-century digital skills instrument aimed at working professionals: Conceptual development and empirical validation. Telematics and informatics, 35(8), 2184-2200. doi: 10.1016/j.tele.2018.08.006.

Verduyn, P., Ybarra, O., Résibois, M., Jonides, J., Kross, E. (2017). Do social network sites enhance or undermine subjective well-being? A critical review. Social Issues and Policy Review, 1, 274-302. doi: 10.1111/sipr.12033.

Vuorikari, R., Kluzer, S. and Punie, Y. (2022). DigComp 2.2: The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens, EUR 31006 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2022, , doi: 10.2760/115376, JRC128415.

Walter, N., Pyżalski, J. (2021). Rozwijanie umiejętności cyfrowych młodych ludzi – gdzie jesteśmy, dokąd zmierzamy? [Developing young people’s digital skills: Where are we, where are we going?] In: S.M. Kwiatkowski (ed.), Współczesne problemy pedagogiki. W kierunku integracji teorii z praktyką [Contemporary problems of pedagogy: Towards integration of theory and practice]. Published by the M. Grzegorzewska Academy of Special Pedagogy.

How to Cite
Pyżalski, J., Walter, N., & Iwanicka, A. (2023). Understanding Age-Related Differences in the Development of Digital Communication and Information Skills in Polish Adolescents. Multidisciplinary Journal of School Education, 12(2 (24), 145-164. https://doi.org/10.35765/mjse.2023.1224.07