DiSTO Uruguay

There are two different research initiatives connected to the DiSTO project currently taking place in Uruguay

Uruguay Context

  • Uruguay is the second smallest South American country with only 3.4 million inhabitants, and situated between two giants: Argentina and Brazil.
  • Uruguay is a country with very high human development by international standards (55th on the world ranking list according to UNDP), with a Gini of 39.7 according to Worldbank data (2016).
  • In the context of Latin America, Uruguay is generally considered a small but stable country, with a considerably developed welfare state. For example, Uruguay is ranked first in Latin America for its quality and stability of its democratic system (Source: Democracy index), lower perceptions of corruption (Source: Corruption Perceptions Index), and freedom of press (Source: World Press Freedom Index).
  • Nonetheless, the country still lags compared to developed countries, facing substantial socioeconomic inequalities, particularly in its educational outcomes.  Not only the achievement of secondary compulsory education is lower than in other Latin American countries, but also youngsters from higher socioeconomic level households have 5 times more chances to finish school than their peers from lower socioeconomic households (71% vs 15%; Source: INEED)
  • On the other hand, the Uruguayan government has developed several successful national-scaled digital inclusion policies, particularly for children and seniors. Regarding the former, Plan Ceibal, a government-funded offspring of OLPC projects, provides computers (laptops or tablets), fiber-optic connectivity at public schools, and educational content free to all students and teachers in the public educational system (close to 1/6th of the total population). Some of these benefits such as a digital public library are even open to all individuals living within the country (source: Plan Ceibal).
  • Similarly, the government-funded Plan Ibirapitá provides free tablets specially developed to senior citizens, as well as basic digital literacy courses to all lower-income pensioners (Source: Plan Ibirapitá). The government also has a very active e-government and open-government agenda, having increasing substantially the number of services and procedures available online during the past decade (Source: AGESIC)
  • 73% of the adult population has used the internet in the last month (Source: ECH 2017, INE), but access in youngsters (9-17) is almost universal (Source: Kids Online Uruguay).

Projects in the Uruguay

In Uruguay the DISTO project has two survey project areas – DiSTO Liceal and WIP+DiSTO Uy.

DiSTO Liceal

DiSTO Liceal or “De las tecnologías a los resultados tangibles. El rol de las habilidades digitales en el bienestar de los estudiantes de la educación media pública uruguaya” (From technologies to tangible outcomes: the role of digital skills in the wellbeing of Uruguay’s public secondary education students) consists in the adaptation, validation and implementation of the DiSTO project a very specific population: students at public secondary education in the capital city of Uruguay (Montevideo). This survey aimed to gather data regarding the relationship between digital skills, the uses of digital resources, and the outcomes that arise from theses uses at this specific moment in the life course of young Uruguayans. DiSTO liceal was conducted during 2017.

This was achieved through:

  • Expert validation of the questionnaire
  • 18 cognitive interviews to adapt questionnaire to Uruguayan public education context
  • Pilot: 40 individuals to pilot questionnaire and 200 to pilot scales
  • Representative survey of 1000 students in Montevideo’s Secondary Public Schools system


  • DiSTO liceal informed key public education stakeholders on digital outcomes and inequalities within and between public high schools.
  • A short research report in Spanish can be found here


Matías Dodel (Universidad Católica del Uruguay), Susana Lamschtein  (Universidad de la República), and Ana Laura Rivoir (Universidad de la República)


This research was supported by the Fondo Sectorial de Educación: Inclusión Digital (Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación & Fundación Ceibal), the Department of Communications, Universidad Católica del Uruguay, and the Department of Sociology, Universidad de la República.


WIP + DiSTO Uy consists in the integration of the World Internet Project (WIP) and DiSTO project in a cross-sectional study of Uruguayan adults. Both WIP Uruguay and DiSTO questionnaires were assessed. The first edition of WIP+DiSTO uy was conducted during 2017; the study’s report can be found at Universidad Católica del Uruguay's website.

This was achieved through:

  • Expert validation of the questionnaire
  • 10 pair cognitive interviews and 5 individual cognitive interviews to adapt questionnaire to Uruguay
  • Pilot: 40 individuals to pilot questionnaire
  • Representative survey of 2000 Uruguayans with access to a cell phone 


  • WIP+DiSTO Uy data was used to inform the media, students and key stakeholders on the state of diverse digital issues in the country such as:
  • Social network uses of the Uruguayan population (i.e. to the European Union’s Communication officers in Uruguay)
  • Humor-related uses and searches online (i.e. at TV program “El Origen”)
  • Internet and e-commerce uses’ adequate measurement: issues and solutions (i.e. presented at the Metrics Seminar at Uruguayan Interactive Advertising Bureau)
  • Cyber-safety (i.e. paper in review; Radio Program “No Toquen Nada”)
  • Internet and e-commerce uses’ adequate measurement: issues and solutions (i.e. presented at the Metrics Seminar at Uruguayan Interactive Advertising Bureau)
  • E-government-related digital inequalities (i.e. book chapter accepted for publication, and presented at the Governance workshop of the Argentinian JAIIO)  
  • The development of pre-grade and grade courses on Internet & Society, and ICT and Public Policies.
  • WIP+DiSTO Uy’s findings were also presented at the 2019 American Sociology Association’s CITAM Media Sociology Preconference in New York. The presentation was based on the study “Determinants of cyber-safety behaviors in a developing country: the role of socioeconomic inequalities, digital skills and perception of cyber-threats”, which will be part of a special issue of the Journal First Monday.


Matías Dodel (Universidad Católica del Uruguay) & Florencia Aguirre (Universidad Católica del Uruguay)


This research was supported by the Carolan Research Institute (USA) and the Department of Communications, Universidad Católica del Uruguay.


Research team

From technologies to tangible outcomes

Ana Laura Rivoir

Principal Investigator

Dr. Ana Laura Rivoir is a full time researcher and professor at the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Universidad de la Republica (at the University since 1991). She is coordinator of the research group ObervaTIC (Observatory on Information and Communication Technologies) at Universidad de la República since 2007. Member of the National System of Researchers of Uruguay (Level I) She is Editor of Revista de Ciencias Sociales. Since December 2015 she is Vice President of Latin American Sociological Association, ALAS. Her actual research interests are about digital media and social inclusion, human infomational development and social inequalities.

Matias Dodel

Principal Investigator

Matías Dodel is a Sociologist (PhD, M.A. & B.A.) and Psychologist (B.A.) who specializes in InformationSociety, Public Policy and Poverty/Inequality issues. Head of Research at Universidad Católica del Uruguay (UCU), he is also researcher and proffesor at the Department of Communications. In 2013 he was appointed as the director of the Research Group on Uruguay, Society & Internet (GIUSI) were he leads the World Internet Project, DiSTO Project, and Kids Online`s Uruguayan Chapters, at UCU. He also works as an expert Sociologist at the National E-government and Information Society Agency (AGESIC) of the Uruguayan government Presidency, were he developed the official ICT surveys (EUTIC: 2010, 2013 & 2016) in collaboration with the National Statistical Office (INE).

His research focuses on how the Internet & Information Society interact with social inequality and stratification. He has studied the effects of digital skills on education-to-work transitions in Uruguay, the potentials of digital technologies for local development, and the links of social disparities with e-government use. His current research centers on the role of digital inequalities on cybersecurity’s skills and behaviors, the risks & benefits of Internet use in kids and youngsters, and the tangible outcomes of Internet's uses and skills.

Susana Lamschtein

Principal Investigator

Phd (c) Susana Lamschtein researches on digital inclusion in different groups of Uruguay since 2007 at the Department of Sociology Faculty of Social Sciences, Universidad de la Republica. Her doctoral thesis consists of the study of different outcomes and the use of digital technologies in secondary students of Montevideo. She teaches quantitative research methodologies at undergraduate courses of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Universidad de la República. Member of the National System of Researchers of Uruguay (Level Candidate) since 2014.Member of the research group ObservaTIC since 2007.

Federico Rodriguez

Research Assistant 

Federico Rodriguez,  B.A. in Socioeconomic Development from Faculty of Social Sciences at  Universidad de la República. He is a researcher at the Observatory of Information and Comunication Technologies and is currently involved in different projects focused on Information Society.


Matias Dodel

Principal Investigator

Phd (c) Matías Dodel is Office Coordinator of the Secretary of Research; the Research Group on Society & Internet; and Adjunct Professor at the Communications Department and Social and Political Sciences Department, at Universidad Católica del Uruguay. His research focuses on digital inequalities and their impact on traditional axes of socioeconomic disparities in areas such as education-to-work transitions, e-government and digital safety. He is currently involved in two DiSTO initiatives in Uruguay (DiSTO at Highschool, and WIP + DiSTO) as well as in the Uruguayan Chapters of Kids Online Latin American and the World Internet Project.

Florencia Aguirre

Research assistant 

Florencia Aguirre,  B.A. in Sociology from the Faculty of Human Sciences at Universidad Católica del Uruguay. She is a researcher at the Research Group on Society & Internet and is currently involved in different projects focused on Information Society.