Ramifications of the digital Divide on Cognitive Development and School Preparedness

The conceptualization of the digital divide stems from multiple decades prior to the focal themes of this chapter as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education. As has been widely discussed in the literature as well as the popular press, numerous existing and long-standing inequities were accentuated throughout the pandemic, not the least of them the digital divide. In addition, the cognitive load for the entire learning ecosystem present in a student’s life, encompassing the mental well-being of parents/guardians, family members, teachers, and administrators, increased to alarming levels during the pandemic with potential long-term impacts on future learning, school operations, and social capital. This chapter explores the school ecosystem of stakeholders, students, educators, parents/guardians/caregivers, administrators, and support staff with a narrow focus on the cognitive impacts on each group attributed to digital divides. Because the impacts of COVID-19 are global in nature, the chapter draws upon research and examples worldwide.