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Generations X, Y, Z: the effects of personal and positional inequalities on critical thinking digital skills

Sabina Lissitsa (School of Communication, Ariel University, Ariel, Israel)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 13 June 2024




In a time of fake news, misinformation, and disinformation, critical thinking has become the most important skill for discerning false, incomplete, and outdated information and communication online. The study examines the effects of personal (gender, age, ethnicity, religiosity, and Big Five personality traits) and positional inequalities (education, occupational status, language proficiency) on critical thinking digital skills (CTDS) among generations X, Y, and Z.


An online survey was conducted among 1,495 Israeli Jews between the ages of 18 and 57, belonging to the X, Y, and Z generations.


The findings show that CTDS among Gen X were significantly lower, by a large margin, than those of the younger generations, while Gen Z reported the highest level of these skills. Multivariate analysis indicated different effect patterns of personal and positional categorical variables on CTDS. We found that the contribution of personal demographic inequalities (gender, age, ethnicity and religiosity) to the explained variance in CTDS was most pronounced in Gen Y, compared to Gen X and Gen Z. The contribution of Big Five personality traits and positional social inequalities (education, occupational status and language proficiency) to explaining CTDS was similar between Gen X and Gen Y, but much less pronounced among Gen Z.

Practical implications

Understanding the intergenerational differences in CTDS is crucial for tailoring educational approaches, promoting inclusivity, and harnessing the diverse strengths of each generation to navigate an ever-evolving digital landscape successfully.


First of its kind, this study combines Generational Cohort Theory with Resources and Appropriation Theory to identify which inequalities may hinder the acquisition of one of today’s most vital skills among three generations.



Lissitsa, S. (2024), "Generations X, Y, Z: the effects of personal and positional inequalities on critical thinking digital skills", Online Information Review, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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