The social processes of learning to use computers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The ability to use a computer is assumed to be a cornerstone of effective citizenship in the Information Age, with a range of initiatives and educational provisions being introduced to encourage people to become competent with information technology (IT). Despite such provision, levels of computer use and competence have been found to vary widely throughout the general population, and we know little of how different ways of learning to use computers contribute to people's eventual use of IT. Based on data from in-depth interviews with 100 adults in the United Kingdom, this article examines the range and social stratification of formal and informal learning about computers that is taking place, suggesting that formal computer instruction orientated toward the general public may inadvertently widen the digital knowledge gap. In particular, the data highlight the importance of informal learning about IT and of encouraging such learning, especially in the home.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-135
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Science Computer Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Computers
  • Digital divide
  • Inequalities
  • Informal learning
  • Skills

Cite this