Tiziano Gerosa, Marco Gui

From Digital Exclusion to Overuse: Social Origins, Smartphone Pervasiveness and Learning Outcomes

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Digital Inequality; Smartphone Pervasiveness; Learning Outcomes; Mediation Analysis.

Smartphones diffusion has contributed to the closing of the digital divide, allowing adolescents from all economic and social backgrounds to access the internet. However, the pervasiveness of such devices even in the most relevant moments of the day has raised some concerns about the unexpected consequences of their use. There is an extensive literature highlighting the negative association between smartphone overuse and adolescents' school performances, while recent research finds first evidences of a greater diffusion of this phenomenon among low educated families. Therefore, differences in the amount of resources that parents can invest in the limitation and guidance of their children's smartphone usage may possibly be fostering new forms of social inequality. We tested this hypothesis on a dataset of 489 high-school students, linking their social origins with their smartphone usage habits, grade point average and Invalsi standardized test scores. By means of a mediation analysis, we show that smartphone pervasiveness moderately mediates the negative relationship between family educational background and students' learning outcomes, contributing to the divide between high and low performers.

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