Edition 2020

Photo description: Boys gaming full of focus on desktop computers.

What are young people doing online?

The internet has become an indispensable part of the daily lives of young people. Dutch youngsters are among the best in Europe when it comes to digital skills. Virtually all young people aged between 12 and 25 years use the internet (almost) daily. Boys and girls do not differ in their digital skills, but there are differences in the reasons for using the internet and the devices at their disposal.

are online(almost)every dayhave morethan basicdigital skillsof Dutch boysread newsand newspapersonlinehave one ormore socialnetwork accountsof Dutch girlslook or applyfor jobs onlineuse an onlinevideo gameconsole 96% 97% 72% 36% 65% 58%What are young people doing online?

In 2019, 96 percent of the Netherlands’ 2.7 million young people aged 12 to 24 years were online (almost) daily. Ninety-nine percent can use a smartphone to go online, 96 percent can (also) use a laptop or netbook and over 63 percent can use a PC. Just over 58 percent use a game console with the internet, but this group contains a lot more boys (almost 72 percent) than girls (over 44 percent).

Nearly all young people (97 percent) have an account with one or more social networks, such as Facebook. Chatting via social networks such as WhatsApp is popular, with 95 percent doing so. Twenty-seven percent also have a business account, such as LinkedIn. Ninety percent of young people send emails and 78 percent make calls via the internet.

Girls look for more information about health

Most young people use the internet to find information. More than 79 percent look for information about goods and services, such as sports shoes or a study programme, and almost 63 percent read the news online. When looking for information on health, which 65 percent do, the differences between boys and girls are large, with the boy-girl ratio being 60 percent and 70 percent, respectively. Girls also use the internet more often than boys to upload photos and music, for example.

Internet use by young people aged 12 to 24 yrs, 2019 (%)
activiteit Boys Girls
Looking for information about
goods and services
81.0 77.8
Looking or applying for a job 32.2 36.3
Looking for information about health 59.5 70.0
Reading or downloading newspapers 64.2 61.4
Uploading photos, music,
documents, etc.
58.0 69.1

Young people very digital savvy

The fact that Dutch youngsters use the internet a lot probably makes them more digitally skilled.

In 2019, 72 percent of young people had more than basic digital skills. A person’s digital skills are determined on the basis of the person’s performance in four sub-areas. The sub-area communication had the highest share of young people with more than basic skills (94 percent). These basic skills include e-mailing, making calls via the internet, using social networks and uploading files. Young people who have more than one of these skills fall into the category ‘more than basic skills’.

Eighty-six percent of young people have more than basic skills in both sub-areas information (such as searching for information online, moving files and storing photos in the cloud) and computers/online services (e.g. online shopping, installing apps and taking a course over the internet). In the sub-area software, 83 percent of young people had more than basic skills. This sub-area includes the use of word processing applications, writing software, and spreadsheets.

Above basic skills of young people, component indicators (% of persons aged 12 to 24 yrs)
Vaardigheden 2019 2015
Communication 94 89
Information 86 83
Computers / online services 86 81
Software 83 79

Boys and girls do not differ in digital skills: Seventy-one percent of boys and 72 percent of girls have more than basic skills. Together with Croatia and Estonia, the Netherlands ranks among the leading countries in the European Union with the highest percentage of young people (16 to 24 years) who have more than basic digital skills. This percentage is lowest in Romania (22 percent) and Bulgaria (29 percent).

The questions


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Explanation of symbols

Explanation of symbols
Symbol Explanation
Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

About CBS

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Concept & image editing

Irene van Kuik


Anne Blaak

Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Kees Groenenboom

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Elma Wobma

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Gabriëlle de Vet

Frans Dinnissen

Final editing

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

We thank all other colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in Numbers.