Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of daily life. Studying, working, even traveling or spending the free time, have taken on new forms and meanings. In this scenario, information and communication technologies have played a central role. They have made possible the realization of distance learning, remote working and virtual travel. Furthermore, the Internet has been considered by many people the main source for learning about the evolution and characteristics of the pandemic.
Aim: From a sociological point of view it is important to underline that in this already complex situation, new possible risks of exclusion are also emerging, which concern, in particular, the use of ITCs. Thus, the paper aims to investigate the question of the digital divide in the Italian context amongst Millennial people.
Methodology: The paper illustrates the main results of a quantitative survey that involved the carrying out of 500 interviews via CAWI aimed at detecting knowledge and computer skills of young Italians, belonging to the Millennial generation, but also their fears and concerns. In addition, to provide an overview of the data collected, the analysis privileged the gender dimension, in order to underline the existing differences between Italian men and women in terms of digital literacy and conscious use of the new technologies.
Discussion: In the social sciences, research on the digital divide was born in the nineties of the last century, limiting, in the social sphere, the phenomenon to the difference in access to technologies and new channels of information and communication amongst citizens. From the beginning, studies on social inequalities had highlighted that generally it was the strata of the population living in poorer socio-economic conditions that were the main protagonists of the digital divide, since they did not have the resources to dispose of the technologies, mainly due to their cost.
However, since the beginning of the new millennium, a profusion of technological devices has been registered on the market, with consequent lowering of prices. This has led to drastically reducing the digital divide in terms of owning the devices and it has encouraged an improvement of the access and use of the Internet. Nowadays, most citizens have at least one smartphone and are socialized to surf the net.
Results and conclusions: The survey has highlighted that the group of Italian Millennials is not homogeneous but contains within it different profiles related to the age and gender of its members. In the pandemic era, having a kit of skills to know how to select, manage and use the information present on the web, as well as being able to distinguish reliable sources from those that are not, creates a real rift between part of the competent population and those who access the network in an unconscious way.