Exploring the ySKILLS indicator with high school students: a co-joint initiative with a Portuguese policy maker

High school students’ answers to a flash quiz suggest knowledge gaps regarding social networks and searching for information. This event occurred in the two Portuguese main fairs on education, work, and training. It was co-organised with the Portuguese Institute for Sports and Youth and actively involved young volunteers. Further collaboration with national stakeholders, young ambassadors and informal spaces could improve working digital skills in adolescents. 

Date 2022-12-23 Author Portuguese Safer Internet Centre Section awareness, policy, research Topic love, relationships, sexuality (online), media literacy/education, online reputation Audience children and young people, media specialist, parents and carers, research, policy and decision makers, teachers, educators and professionals
A group of high school students sitting in their classroom

As part of exploitation activities related to the ySKILLs project, we prepared a ‘flash action’ targeted to high school students (15+ years) attending the two main national fairs on education, work, and training, to check how this group of older students answered to questions on digital knowledge, most of them asked in the longitudinal ySKILLS survey. 

Preparing the action

This action was prepared in articulation with the key policy maker working with young people: Instituto Português do Desporto e da Juventude (Portuguese Institute for Sports and Youth, IPDJ). Since capturing the attention of the participants in these events is difficult, the institute decided to prepare a digital game (quiz format) with no more than five questions. 

The game was prepared using the Quizizz platform, in a way that does not imply capturing private information on the respondents. They had to decide whether each one of the five statements (four of which were from the ySKILLS questionnaire) were true or false, with a third option that was 'no answer'. 

The action

In the IPDJ pavilion, young volunteers invited visiting students to participate in the game. Once these students had answered to the questions, they received an award from the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre. Although its short duration, this activity allowed to discuss with the participants issues related to the way they use and surf the internet. 

Graphical representation of the results of the survey: 838 answers in Portugal, by Qualifica in Porto (493 answers, April 2022) and Futuralia in Lisbon (March and April 2022). Credits: Portuguese Safer Internet Centre


The results collected from more than 800 high school students suggest a certain lack of critical thinking on the individual and social impacts of the online interaction.

Results of the yskills survey. Questions: A friend's post is more reliable than other posts (50% answered correctly, 47% incorrectly); The first post I see on social media is the last thing that was posted by one of my contacts (53% correct, 44% incorrect); Whether I like or share a post can have a negative impact on others (72% correct, 25% incorrect); Companies pay ordinary people to use their products in videos and content they create (72% correct, 25% incorrect); Everyone gets the same information when they search for things online (79% correct, 18% incorrect). Credits: Portuguese Safer Internet Centre

Only around half of the respondents have correctly identified the two first statements, both related to social networking and online communication with peers. 

While the further three statements received higher correct answers, it is remarkable that around one in four neither identified the possible negative impact of actions in social sites nor the commercial dimension behind the influencers. 

Around one in five of these high school students did not identify how the searching information online works.

The comparison with the 1st wave of the Portuguese results, mainly answered by younger students (aged 13 to 15) shows a better performance from these older respondents. While confirming that age matters regarding digital skills, these results also suggest the need to consolidate digital skills, both those that are functional (how the algorithmics work, for instance) and those that have a critical dimension (e.g. empathy, the economic model behind the social networks, the awareness of the circulation of false information).

Further steps

This collaborative action with a key national stakeholder took advantage from the informal space of these fairs and provided a tool that may be used by IPDJ young volunteers in their own work with young people across the country.

Certainly, discussing the generated results from this game with young participants may illuminate understanding of these questions (for instance, how could the first statement, on trusting friends, be understood by the respondents?).  Starting from the game’s results also may help to formulate and reformulate other questions, in a peer-to-peer approach, and can highlight ideas to improve digital skills in adolescents. 

Therefore, such action is also inspirative for further actions involving the participation of other key stakeholders such as adolescents leading digital training among peers: the programs Navegas em Segurança, from IPDJ, and Líderes Digitais, linked to the Directorate General of Education.

This article was originally published at https://yskills.eu/exploring-the-yskills-indicator-the-ydsi-with-high-school-students-a-joint-initiative-together-with-a-portuguese-policy-maker/ and has been adapted and republished here with the permission of the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre.  

Find out more about the work of the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.     

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