Collateral benefits of Internet use: Explaining the diverse outcomes of engaging with the Internet


Work data:

ISSN: 1461-7315

Type of work: Article (academic)


Digital Divide | Digital Inclusion | Digital Literacy


This article examines the extent to which economic, cultural, social, and personal types of engagement with the Internet result in a variety of economic, cultural, social, and personal outcomes. Data from a representative survey of the Dutch population are analyzed to test whether engagement with a certain type of activity is related to “collateral” benefits in different domains of activities, independent from the socioeconomic or sociocultural characteristics of the person. The results show that what people do online and the skills they have affect outcomes in other domains and that this is independent of the characteristics of the person. This means that policy and interventions could potentially overcome digital inequalities in outcomes through skills training and providing opportunities to engage online in a broad variety of ways. A semiologic rather than an economistic approach is more likely to be effective in thinking about and tackling digital inequalities.