Digital inequality at home
The school as compensatory agent
Following the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the forced digitization of teaching at all levels of education has highlighted the social problem of digital inequality at home. The article addresses this issue by looking at the role of both social background, as measured by socioeconomic-status (SES), in this inequality, and that of schools. A multidimensional approach to digital inequality is proposed, incorporating the frequency and quality of use of digital media, as well as ICT access. To this end, multiple structural equation models are estimated using data from the last PISA cycle (2018), for a total of 161,443 students from 6261 schools and 21 European countries, to check the influence on each of these three dimensions of both the SES and the integration of ICT in schools. The results confirm that for most European countries: (1) access to ICT at home is influenced to a greater extent by the family's SES than by the integration of ICT at school; (2) both the frequency and quality of use of ICT at home are influenced more by the integration of ICT at school than by the SES of the family, while in some countries the influence of the social aspect is practically irrelevant. Therefore, the integration of ICT in schools emerges as a compensatory measure for the social inequalities of students and may contribute to the reduction of digital inequality.