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Digital competences of social media users

Piotr Cholewiński – Bachelor’s work at the Department of Economic Computing of the University of Gdańsk, led by Dr. Inż. Przemysław Jatkiewicz

Characteristics of social media

Social media have grown intensively for more than two decades and have grown intensely, becoming an indiscriminate part of most people’s lives. It is interesting to look at the exact social media in order to understand their substance and define the characteristics that an app or website must meet in order to be classified as a social media. One of the first definitions of social media was proposed by Ms Rheingold as“a social focus, selected on the internet, when individuals, using the network, conduct sufficiently long public conversations with a sufficiently high emotional commitment to create personal relationships with others in cyberspace[1].

Thus, the main essence of social media is the interaction between users, but each portal takes a slightly different form and allows for different communication opportunities between internet users.

Currently, the top 5 social platforms in terms of number of users are[2]:

  • Facebook (2.74 billion users),
  • YouTube (2.29 billion users),
  • WhatsApp (2 billion users),
  • Instagram (1.22 billion users),
  • WeChat (1.21 billion users).

Each portal, which can be classified as a social medium, offers a different type and presentation of content to the user, as well as more or less opportunities to interact with other users. For example, the most popular today Facebook allows publishing its own content (in the form of posts, videos or photos), adding other users to friends, sharing and commenting on other users’ content, as well as private or group conversations. Youtube’s second most popularity is based on the provision by users of video content, which can then be commented on by others. It is in the comments that the interaction between users takes place. However, it is not possible to add friends, private conversations, and the identity of users is in most cases anonymous. Whatsapp, on the other hand, is based solely on conversations between users who can send messages, pictures or films to themselves. However, it does not allow all users of the application to make the material publicly available. Due to differences in the functionality of different applications, most people (especially young people) are active users of at least a few social media. Research carried out in 2018 among American teenagers showed that almost 70 % of them use three social media channels on a daily basis, namely Youtube, Instagram and Snapchat[3].

Social media have been in existence for a relatively recent period. The first such websites and portals started in the United States at the end of the 1990s[4]. It was there that internet users were able to interact with each other for the first time. These portals have not been more successful. However, a decade later, in the early 2000s, social media started to grow intensively.

It started with portals such as, but not limited to: Facebook, Youtube, Linkedin or MySpace[5]. The last of the above-mentioned MySpace in 2004 was the first ever to break the barrier of one million active users[6]. This was followed by other portals created at the time, which over time greatly overshadowed MySpace’s success.

As soon as social media have developed since then, available research is best shown in recent years. In 2005, around 7 % of adult Americans used social media. This figure has risen almost tenfold over the decade, to 65 % in 2015[7]. Similarly, the increase in the number of active users of individual social networks worldwide is impressive. Some of the social media outlets have been in existence for more than a decade and can be worth more than one billion, and in the case of Facebook up to two billion active users.

It is worth mentioning the only Polish social network, our class, which, although very popular at the outset, has lost users over time to the above-mentioned Facebook. Set up at the end of 2006, the portal built around 14 million active users in four years[8]. After 2010, due to controversial changes and the introduction of charges for services that were previously free of charge, the service gradually became less popular. The simultaneous development of other media means that the most popular Polish social network is now forgotten.

TikTok was established in 2016 with over half a billion active users built around it over two years. In Figure 1.1, we can see how the number of users of popular social networks has grown over the years.

Figure 1.1. Increase in monthly active users of social networks over the period 2004-2019.

Source: Ortiz-Ospina, Esteban. The rise of social media. Our world in data 18 (2019).

Figure 1.1 shows that each existing social platform is accompanied by an increasing trend. The most impressive presentation is Facebook, which has gained over 2 billion new users between 2009 and 2019.

Methods of using social media

A stable internet connection is a basic condition for the use of social media, as without it, communication with other users and the mere browsing of content is very difficult or even impossible. Equally important is the speed of the connection, which has a significant impact on the charging speed as well as the quality of the content consulted. Due to the fact that access to broadband internet is not always possible, some social platforms offer reduced data consumption options for mobile data users or, for example, Youtube setting the quality of the video viewed. According to statistics for 2020, 90.4 % of households in Poland fulfil the basic condition of internet access. These figures are satisfactory, but Poland still displays on average on average compared to the rest of Europe. According to data for 2019, Poland left 87 % out of the European standard by 3 % and the leading Netherlands and Norway by 11 %. Looking at types of internet connections in households, it can be observed that the most frequent use of fixed broadband connection is that 99.1 % of all households with access to the internet used this option[9].

It is worth noting that mobile broadband is growing very rapidly. In 2016, 36.1 % of households had access to mobile broadband, compared to 66.7 % in 2020. This is an increase of just over 30 %, while fixed lines increased by less than 10 %[10] over the same period. Growth is also observed in the volume of smartphones purchased and owned. In 2020, almost 22 million people in Poland had smartphones, twice as many as in 2015[11]. Sales of smartphones increased from 7.5 million to 8.5 million over the same period. Mobile coverage is another important criterion for a stable internet connection. The strength of the signal in different locations will vary marginally from one operator to another, but the standard of coverage covering most of Poland’s territory is offered by any larger mobile network operator.

Figure 1.2 shows the coverage of mobile 5G and LTE 4G on the T-mobile network, one of the currently largest mobile telephony service providers.

T-mobile mobile 5G and LTE 4G mobile coverage map
Figure 1.2. T-mobile mobile telephony coverage map in Poland.


From a social media perspective, access to a stable and high-speed internet, wherever the user is located, is very important as the content displayed varies according to the location in which it is located.

Once the condition of internet access is met, another equally important element is the possession of a device on which social media can be used. Different devices differ in size, application, hardware capabilities, but above all the operating system on which they operate. It is on the basis of the operating system that equipment can be contractually divided into two categories:

  • operating on desktop operating systems,
  • operating on mobile operating systems.

Devices in the first category are mostly desktops and laptops. The three most popular operating systems for this type of device are Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux. They are characterised by a high capacity in terms of programme management, personalisation and system configuration.

Mobile operating systems rely mainly on smartphones and tablets. The most popular operating systems for this type of equipment are Android, iOS, KaiOS.

Mobile operating systems do not offer the same range of options as desktop systems. Nevertheless, they are working well on mobile devices as they make full use of their possibilities. Due to their size and tactile screens, such devices are less convenient for office work than desktops and laptops. Due to their comfort, intuitiveness and user-friendliness, it is mobile devices that become more popular with computers every year. With the rapid development of smartphone technology over the decade, computers have overtaken computers in terms of the number of devices used. As shown in Figure 1.3.

1st Graph: market share for equipment
Figure 1.3. Market share of equipment over the period 2011-2021.


The available statistical surveys for the Polish market clearly show an upward trend in the use of smartphones, with a downward trend for desktops. At the beginning of 2011, smartphones had a market share of only 0.88 %, with computers accounting for as much as 99.12 %. According to data for January 2021, smartphones account for 52.92 % of the market, computers 45.83 % and the remaining 1.26 % market share for tablets.

1.3 Impact of social media on computer perceptions

Social media have a huge impact on the reality. Through social platforms, politicians run electoral campaigns and companies promote their products. In addition, everyone has the possibility to become an online celebrity with a huge number of fans without even leaving their homes. Events are also promoted and news from the world is spreading at a rapid pace.

Social media also have an increasing influence on which devices to choose to use the internet first. According to available data, 3.96 billion people currently use social media in the world, out of 4.57 billion internet users. Of these users, around 99 % or 3.92 billion use mobile devices such as a smartphone or tablet. However, as many as 78 % of social media users use telephone only. By comparison, only 1.32 % of users are selected by a computer as the only means of using social platforms[12], as shown in Table 1.1.

Table 1.1. Devices used to use social media.
Social media device Percentage (%) of users
Only smartphone 78
Computer only 1.32
Both devices 20

Source: in-house study

The average time spent on the daily use of social media has increased sharply over the years. At the beginning of 2020, an average internet user between 16 and 64 years spent on social media on average 2 hours and 24 minutes a day[13], 38 % more than just 5 years ago.

Mobile devices have redefined the use of the Internet, which, a decade ago, was mainly based on visiting and browsing websites. Currently, of every 11 minutes of use of a mobile device, 10 are for mobile applications. Websites account for only 9 % of the time spent on the phone. As many as 89 % of internet users regularly use instant messaging services and social applications on mobile devices[14]. Table 1.2 shows the percentage of internet users declaring the use of different types of mobile applications on a regular basis.

Table 1.2. Percentage of internet users declaring the use of different types of mobile applications.
Application type % users
Instant messaging services 89
Social applications 89
Video applications 65
Mobile games 47
Shopping apps 66
Music 52
Maps 65
Banking 35
Dating apps 11
Health and fitness 26

Source: own study based on

The statistics cited above clearly show that smartphones play a very important role in the social media world and are directly associated with them. In addition, the increasingly noticeable prioritisation of mobile devices by social media developers is only worsening the situation of desktops.

Some social networks have been designed to be used on mobile devices, and their entire functionality is based on the use of technologies that are only and exclusively available on this type of device, making it very difficult and in the worst case impossible to use these applications on a computer.

An ideal example of this type of application is Snapchat, which relies on the use of a smartphone camera, where the user of the app can send messages disappearing after time in the form of photos or videos. Users of the app have the opportunity to report on what happens in their lives at a given moment, using photos or videos that share with other users (most often those who know their lives). Smartphone devices are indeed the only devices on which Snapchat has a raison d’être because of its dimensions, the built-in camera and the access to the Internet anywhere.

Snapchata screens
Figure 1.4. Presentation of the appearance and functionality of the Snapchat application on mobile devices.


An integral part of some social media are instant messaging services such as Messenger, which can also be used as an independent app. Some of them are functionally sufficiently developed to become social media themselves, such as WhatsApp. Instant messaging can be used successfully on both mobile and fixed devices. Communication is mainly done in text format, so it will be simpler and more convenient for some users to write messages using a physical keyboard rather than, as in the case of mobile devices, a tactile keyboard. However, even where both desktops and mobile devices allow the use of instant messaging services with the same result, smartphones are more suitable for this. Everything they offer through smartphones, thus allowing users to communicate with others at any time, practically everywhere. In addition, instant messaging for mobile devices also offers more functionalities than computer versions, such as voice messages, video recordings from the application level, or sharing their location.

2. Digital competencies

2.1 Digital competence characteristics

The increasing digitalisation of society makes the presence of the internet visible in increasingly new areas of life. From work and education, to ordering food or finding and booking holiday holidays. Information and services are now widely available online, making digital competence more important and crucial to fully functioning in today’s world. Already in 2006, the European Parliament listed digital competences as one of eight key skills for lifelong learning[15]. In addition to digital skills, the eight competencies listed included: communication in foreign languages, communication in mother tongue, mathematical competence, learning to learn, social and civic competences, entrepreneurship and cultural awareness.

A European Reference Framework for Citizens’ Digital Competences known as DIGCOMP (Digitial Competence Framework) will help to define more precisely what digital skills are. The DIGCOMP framework was prepared by a team of Spanish-Italian researchers who use the term digital competences to identify the set of knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to function properly and actively in the digital environment and to harness the benefits of technology in everyday life[16].

The DIGCOMP project distinguishes 21 digital skills competences, which are divided into 5 areas and different levels of maturity[17]. The competences divided into different areas are presented in Table 2.1.

The DIGCOMP model covers a wide range of competences with different levels of proficiency and on multiple levels, so it does not clearly define the minimum set of skills that a digitally competent individual should possess.The UK’s Basic Digital Skills model will be useful in this context, which defines basic competences for individual users, indicating skills such as[18]:

  • sending of e-mails,
  • search for content,
  • browse the web pages,
  • filling in online forms,
  • identification and removal of spam,
  • determining which services can be trusted,
  • define privacy settings.
Table 2.1. Digital competences according to the DIGCOMP model.
Ability to use information and data
  • View, search and filter data, information and digital content
  • 1.2 Evaluation of data, information and digital content
  • 1.3 Management of digital data, information and content
Communication and cooperation
  • Communication using digital tools
  • 2.2 Sharing information and resources
  • 2.3 Online active citizenship
  • 2.4 Cooperation using digital technologies
  • 2.5 Nethics
  • 2.6 Digital identity management
Creating digital content
  • 3.1 Developing digital content
  • 3.2 Content integration and processing
  • 3.3 Compliance with copyright and licences
  • 3.4 Programming
  • 4.1 Security tools
  • 4.2 Protection of personal data
  • Protection of physical and mental health from the use of digital technologies
  • 4.4 Environmental protection
Problem solving
  • 5.1 Addressing technical problems
  • Identify the needs and tools needed to address the problem
  • 5.3 Creative use of technology
  • 5.4 Identification of digital competence gaps

Source: own study based on

Such a catalogue of skills, although minimalist, allows the user to use the hardware and the internet in a completely efficient and safe manner.

The level of digital competence in society is gradually improving, but there is still a large group of people without any digital skills. According to the 2020 DESI (The Digital Economy and Society Index) report, even though 85 % of citizens used the internet in 2019, only 58 % had at least basic digital skills, and only 33 % of these skills were above basic levels[19]. The percentage of people with digital competences is strongly influenced by the age of the group under examination. For example, in the age group 16-24, 82 % of respondents had at least basic digital skills. On the other hand, in the 55-74 age group, the same rate was only 35 %[20].

Poland is slightly worse than in the European Union. Figure 2.1 shows the distribution of digital skills in society.

figure 2.1
Figure 2.1 – text version
Total Men Women
Persons with basic or secondary digital skills 50.3 % 51.1 % 49.5 %
People with secondary digital skills 26.1 % 26.5 % 25.8 %
People with basic digital skills 24.1 % 24.6 % 23.6 %
People with low digital skills 31.5 % 30.8 % 32.2 %

Figure 2.1. Individuals with digital competences by level and gender in 2020

Source: Information Society in Poland in 2020

According to CSO data, in 2020, just over half of Poles had basic or secondary digital skills, 31.5 % of skills were low and 18.3 % of the population did not have any digital competences[21].

2.2 Modalities for acquiring digital competences

The Z generation, i.e. people born after 1997[22], is the first generation to grow up in the era of the open internet. Universal access to digital technologies in developed countries makes the first internet contact for the new generation very early, rapidly becoming an integral part of life. In European countries, as early as 2012, among 9-16 children, the average age of first internet contact was 9 and 93 % used the internet at least once a week[23]. Such early and frequent access to technology raises the need to educate the public on how to move safely and correctly on the Internet, as well as on the risks associated with it. One of the main dangers in this area is dependence on the internet and computer, which in extreme cases can lead to neglect of important aspects of life, such as sleep or hygiene. Another risk is the negative impact of the Internet on the mental health of users. Research carried out, as early as 1995, showed that, after one year of internet use, there was an increased feeling of loneliness or signs of depression[24].

However, there is no need for digital literacy education only for the youngest. This refers to people who are affected by digital exclusion, i.e. those who do not use the internet. The two main reasons for not having access to the internet in the household are: No need (67.7 % of respondents) and lack of adequate skills (52 % of respondents)[25]. The group most affected by digital exclusion is those aged 55 to 74, who make up as much as 80.4 % of all people who have never used the internet[26].

The first place where a person is given the opportunity to acquire digital competences is school. The times of the global pandemic, during which distance education is needed, have further underlined the importance of digital education among students and teachers. According to UNESCO data, the closure of schools and thus the need for remote education affected around 1.6 billion pupils and students[27] in April 2020.

A number of EU and government programmes aim to enable students to acquire useful skills from the early stages[28]. One such programme is the Digital Education Action Plan, an action plan to improve the use of digital technologies in education and to develop digital skills for digitisation[29]. A key measure to develop digital education is investment in IT infrastructure. The programme which pursues this objective is the National Education Network, i.e. the public telecommunications network, which enables schools throughout Poland to connect to the fast and free internet[30].

Schools have the opportunity to participate in programmes preparing students for digital skills certificates. A good example is the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) certificate, known in Poland as the European Computer Skills Certificate. Figure 2.2 shows an example of an ECDL certificate.

ECDL certificate
Figure 2.2. Example ECDL certificate at advanced level.


This certificate has been in place for more than 20 years and has been recognised by employers around the world. It requires a test at one of three levels: basic, medium-advanced or advanced. The examination examines the competence of the DIGCOMP Framework already mentioned above. The range of skills needed to obtain an ECDL starts from the simplest, such as the basis of work with a computer and the operation of spreadsheets, to skills such as advanced use of databases.

2.3 Fitness of digital competence in using social media

Today, almost 4 billion people use social media[31]. With this amount, diversity in the level of digital skills of individual users is inevitable. For this reason, social networks are by design simple and intuitive to use, thus also allowing less experienced internet users to use them. However, some areas of digital competence may still be necessary for the correct and, above all, safe use of social media. The above-mentioned DIGCOMP model distinguishes 5 areas of digital competence: Information and data analytics, communication, creation of digital content, security and problem solving.

In the area of information, the ability to assess the veracity of the content consulted may be particularly useful. Researchers from the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have shown that on Twitter, fake news (fake news presented as truths or opinions presented as facts) were 70 % more likely to be re-distributed. Real information compared to these fake news needed 6 times more time to reach 1500 users. The situation has not even improved by eliminating the information made available by bots, clearly indicating that it is the people who make most of the false information available[32].

Communication with other users is a basic feature of most social networks. In Poland, only 7.3 % of people using the internet do not perform any communication activities in the digital space (messaging on social networks or receiving e-mails)[33]. It is therefore important to know how to communicate correctly, share content or manage your identity online.

Security is probably the most important area of digital competence that will be useful for the use of social media. Some social networks offer their users the possibility to set up their privacy profile, i.e. the amount of information that will be available to other users.

privacy Control Screen screen
Figure 2.3. Privacy check available to Facebook users.

Source: own elaboration.

Even adequate security of personal data on such portals may not be sufficient. Facebook is particularly bad in this regard. In 2018, the portal underwent major changes to the simplicity and transparency of privacy settings available to users. This was due to the leakage of around 50 million personal data which were subsequently used for the political campaign[34]. The situation recurred on a much larger scale 3 years later, as more than half a billion users’ sensitive data, such as telephone numbers, locations or email addresses, were stolen[35].

3. Study on the impact of social media on digital competences

3.1 Test method and methods

The studies were carried out using a survey created in the Google Forms, which was subsequently made available on the Facebook social network and on Instagram among the acquaintances of the author of the work. This way of carrying out the research was chosen because it was possible to reach a large number of respondents within a short period of time. It was important to obtain answers from respondents from different age groups. For this purpose, the survey was first made available on Instagram of the author of the work, where the target audience was young people between 14 and 24 years old. The next phase of the survey is to reach out to the 25-44 and 45-65 age groups. This objective was achieved through a Facebook account, where the main audience of the survey was people in that age bracket. Reaching out to respondents aged 65 and over proved to be a problem. Only three people in this age group replied to the survey – two of them via the internet and one by phone.

The aim of the studies was to identify the impact of social media use on users’ digital competence levels, as well as to identify which devices are most commonly used by them and which social media they prefer. In relation to the objectives pursued, the main research problem is: Does and to what extent does the amount of time spent on using social media influence the level of digital competence of users?

As a result of his own observations, the author of the work noted that people often using social media despite their proficiency in operating social media have a very limited range of digital skills. In the light of the above, the author of the work assumes that social media negatively affects the level of digital competence, thus leading to a reduction in the level of digital competence.

3.2 Analysis of test results

Respondents to the survey answered a total of 7 questions. The first two concerned socio-demographic characteristics, namely gender and age. Of the 140 respondents, the majority, as much as 99, are women. This translates into 70.7 % of all respondents. Disparities in the distribution of sex are shown in a circular diagram in Figure 3.1.

figure 3.1
Figure 3.1 – text version
Gender 140 responses
Woman 70.7 %
Man 29.3 %

Figure 3.1. Breakdown by gender among respondents.

Source: in-house study

When answering the question on age, respondents had one of four age brackets: 14-24, 25-44, 45-64 and over 65. In the first three groups, a similar number of respondents were reached. Only in the age of 65 only three people replied. This means that respondents aged between 14 and 64 accounted for 97.9 % of all respondents.

figure 3.2
Figure 3.2 – text version
Age 140 responses
14-24 34.3 %
25-44 33.6 %
45-64 30 %
over 65 2.1 %

Figure 3.2 Distribution by age among respondents.

Source: in-house study

The other questions were already closely related to the topic of research. In the question on digital competences, respondents were asked to tick all the actions they were able to perform.
They had the following answers:

  • sending an e-mail,
  • search for content on the internet,
  • browse the web pages,
  • filling in the online form,
  • identification and removal of spam,
  • identification of which services can be trusted,
  • define privacy settings.

As their skills, the vast majority of users flagged the first three responses, which obtained 98.6 %, 100 % and 99.3 % respectively. Slightly less, as 95.7 % indicated filling in the form online. The last three skills are distinguished in terms of the number of indications. 110 people identified and removed spam, or 78.6 % of the total test sample. On the other hand, 75 % and 77.1 % of the marks obtained by identifying which services can be trusted and defining privacy settings. If you did not have any of the skills mentioned above, the interviewee had the option of ‘None of these’, but this did not happen once.

Table 3.1. Your answers to the question about your digital skills.
Skill Number of respondents %
Sending of e-mails 138 98,6
Search for content on the Internet 140 100
Browse the web pages 139 99,3
Fill in the online form 134 95,7
Identification and removal of spam 110 78,6
Identification of which services can be trusted 105 75
Define privacy settings 108 77,1

Source: in-house study

To the question ‘How many times a week you use social media?’, the vast majority of respondents answered -every day. This response represented as much as 87.9 % of the total test sample. Only 11 indicated ‘Several times per week (4-6 days a week)’, only four respondents indicated ‘Normly (1-3 days a week) and ‘less than once a week’ only two.

figure 3.3
Figure 3.3 – text version
How many times a week you use social media 140 responses
Every day 123 persons
Several times per week (4-6 days a week) 11 arrivals
Rarely (1-3 days per week) 4 persons
Less than once a week 2 persons

Figure 3.3. Answers to the question about the number of days of social media use.

Source: in-house study

In the following question, respondents were asked to indicate how much time they spend on social media per day. The relevant research results are presented in Table 3.2.

Table 3.2. Answers to the question about the amount of time spent on social media per day.
Time spent Number of respondents %
1-2 hours 81 57,9
3-4 hours 34 24,3
5-6 hours 17 12,1
More than 7 hours 8 5,7

Source: in-house study

Interestingly, among the 25 respondents who indicated ‘5-6 hours’ and ‘over 7 hours’, as many as 23 were between 14 and 24 years old. At the same time, in the same age bracket, only 9 people indicated the answer “1-2 hours”, thus representing only 11 % of the 81 people who opted for this answer.

When asked “What social media do you use most?”, almost half (49.3 %) of users identified Facebook, followed by 27.9 % Youtube and 15 % Instagrama. Only 5.7 % of respondents were in TikTok, but it is worth noting that each of them represented an age range of 14-24. Only one person identified Twitter as his most commonly used social media, and two did not identify any of the listed ones. The details are presented in Table 3.3.

Table 3.3. Answers to the question about the most commonly used social media.
Most commonly used Number of respondents %
Facebook 69 49,3
YouTube 39 27,9
Instagram 21 15
TikTok 8 5,7
Twitter 1 0,7
None of these 2 1,4

Source: in-house study

The popularity of social media varies across age groups. This is particularly evident in the age groups 14-24 and 25-44, which are represented by a very similar number of respondents. Among those aged 25 to 44, Facebook is clearly dominated by Facebook as the preferred medium, while Instagram and Youtube are also popular among younger people. These differences are presented in Table 3.4.

Table 3.4. Number of indications of individual social media in the 14-24 and 25-44 age groups.
Preferred app Number of respondents aged 14-24 Number of respondents aged 25-44
Facebook 12 33
YouTube 13 10
Instagram 14 3
TikTok 8 0
Twitter 0 1

Source: in-house study

The purpose of the last question was to determine which devices are used by the interviewees. Of the four options available, smartphone proved to be a strong champion with 135 indications, which translates into 96.4 % of all votes. The laptop indicated exactly half of the respondents. The desktop computer and tablet marked 22.9 % and 18.6 % respectively, as shown in Figure 3.4.

figure 3.4
Figure 3.4 – text version
which devices you use 140 responses
Smartphone 135 (96.4 %)
Desktop computer 32 (22.9 %)
Laptop 70 (50 %)
Tablet 26 (18.6 %)

Figure 3.4. Respondents’ answers to the question about the devices used.

Source: in-house study

Interestingly, out of the 32 respondents using a desktop computer, as many as 15 were between 14 and 24 and only 4 in the 45-64 range.

Conclusions of the tests carried out

The author of the work assigned a certain number of points to the digital skills listed in the survey, depending on the degree of maturity of the activity. The advanced skills are defined according to a scoring scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is the easiest and 5 the most difficult. The scores are shown in Table 3.5. The level of digital competence for research was defined as the sum of the scores given to each skill declared by the respondents.

Table 3.5. Digital skills scores.
Number of points assigned Skills
1 Browse the web pages
2 Send e-mail, Search content online
3 Filling in the online form
4 Identification and removal of spam
5 Identify which services can be trusted, Specify privacy settings

Source: in-house study

Respondents were grouped in terms of time spent on social media, preferred medium, age and gender. In each of these groups, the points were summed up and then divided by the number of respondents to obtain the average. In this way, it was possible to compare the average points of people seldom using social media with frequent users. This made it possible to examine the validity of the hypothesis that social media has a negative impact on the level of digital competence among users. The average number of points among respondents grouped in relation to the time spent on social media is shown in Table 3.6 below.

Table 3.6. Average points in groups by amount of time spent.
Time spent Average points
1-2 hours 17,82
3-4 hours 18,85
5-6 hours 20,06
More than 7 hours 21,38

Source: in-house study

The work also examined whether there is a link between the preferred social medium and the level of digital competence. The respondents who identified Facebook as the preferred medium went in the worst.

Table 3.7. Average points in groups according to the preferred application.
Social media Average points
Facebook 17,58
YouTube 18,74
Instagram 20,67
TikTok 20,88

Source: in-house study

When broken down by age group, the best average was obtained in the youngest age group 14-24 with a score of 20.19. The two remaining age groups 25-44 and 45-64, with average points of 18.09 and 18.14, are very similar.

On the basis of the data collected and the calculations made, it can be concluded that social media do not have a negative impact on the level of digital competence, but on the contrary. Research shows that the level of digital skills is particularly influenced by age.

Research has also shown that a smartphone is the dominant device among users in each age group. This is evidenced by the fact that as many as 96 % of all respondents mentioned this device. The laptop laptop was the second highest in terms of number of votes, but it has almost half the indications.

When asked about the preferred social media, Facebook indicated a large number of users in the 25-44 and 45-64 age groups. Only in the 14-24 group are several social media outlets equally popular at the same time.


The aim of this work was to determine the impact of social media use on users’ digital competence levels, as well as to identify which devices are most commonly used by them and which social media they prefer. In order to clarify the problem, the first two theoretical chapters discuss social media and digital competence issues. The practical chapter was devoted to surveys aimed at confirming or rejecting the hypothesis put forward by the author of the work that social media had a negative impact on users’ digital competences.

Only 140 respondents participated in the survey. Their selection cannot be considered to be entirely random, since the group in question was limited only to the environment of the author of the work. However, the studies carried out make it possible to formulate the opposite hypothesis, i.e.: social media has a positive impact on the level of digital competence of users, but the confirmation of this requires additional, much broader research work going beyond the capacity of the author of the work. However, they suggest that, among his acquaintances, the time devoted to social media has had a positive impact on their digital competences.

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Digital technology / specialisation

  • Digital skills

Digital skill level

  • Basic
  • Intermediate

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