Unequal Loneliness in the Digitalized Classroom: Two Loneliness Effects of School Computers and Lessons for Sustainable Education in the E-Learning Era
Incorporating information and communication technology (ICT) into schooling has been one of the most conspicuous trends in education innovation for decades. Despite the education community's optimistic consensus on the digitalization of the classroom, however, evidence-based research on the educational effectiveness of ICT is an unfinished task. In this situation, this study gives renewed attention to the socioemotional effects of school computers and draws lessons for sustainable education in
... nable education in the e-learning era. By analyzing the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2015, this study identifies the causal link between school computer usage time (the independent variable) and satisfaction with peer relationships (the dependent variable) among elementary and middle school students: the loneliness deepening effect. Then, considering the issue of digital divide, it finds the positive interaction between the independent variable and academic performance (the moderating variable): the loneliness inequality effect. These two findings—summarized by the term "unequal loneliness"—call for critical reflections on the current use of school computers but do not support the Ludditish claim that wholly denies ICT's educational values and potentials. Rather, the existence of the loneliness inequality effect additionally implies an opportunity to go beyond mere technological determinism and deliberate on human users' capabilities for effective ICT usage.