Alessandra Vitullo, Tiziano Gerosa, Lucilla Losi, Marco Gui

Permanent connection and digital inequality: The analysis of the gaps between students with a migratory background and locals

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Keywords: Digital Inequality; Digital Skills; Permanent Connectivity; Problematic Smartphone Use; Second Generation.

In the last decade, numerous studies have identified digital technologies as a tool to foster the integration of young people who have a personal or family migratory background. The spread of smartphones, which has occurred in recent years, has bridged the digital divide for Internet access, offering a favorable opportunity for the integration of migrants. However, the research on digital inequality has shown that when the gap in access to Information Communication Technologies (ITC) is reduced, new inequalities emerge in skills and personal benefits that people can get online. This «second-level» digital divide has also been detected with respect to the negative effects of Internet use. Up to now, very few studies investigated these flipsides of technologies among students with a migratory background, especially in comparison with local peers. This study aims to contribute to this debate by exploiting the data collected over 3,300 upper secondary school students (grade 10) in the «Digital Wellbeing – Schools» project. The analyzes show that students with a migratory background accumulate disadvantages compared to their local peers in terms of digital competence, active use of digital media and problematic smartphone use. Moreover, we found that such divides are mostly explained by family characteristics. Drawing on these results, theoretical and policy implications, which go beyond the mere diffusion of ICT, are discussed.

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