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October 22, 2012

Teenage Smartphone and Tablet Users at 50 Percent: Study

By Colleen Lynch, TMCnet Contributor

The number of teenagers using smartphones and tablets has finally been calculated, and the answer may (or may not) surprise you: according to a mobile learning report released today, 50 percent of high schoolers and 40 percent of middle schoolers now use smartphones or tablets on a regular basis.

The number marks a dramatic increase from figures calculated in 2007, but may be expected given the massive popularity boom of such devices in the last few years.

The numbers were released today in a report funded and issued by Blackboard (News - Alert), Inc. and Project Tomorrow, which examined K-12 students and their steadily increasing use of mobile devices.

“Young people that have grown up with smartphones not only understand the value mobile devices can add to the learning environment, but also have a rapidly growing interest in incorporating the technologies,” explained the senior vice president of Blackboard, Brett Frazier.

Frazier is one of many who believe that the rapidly growing interest and usage in smartphones and tablets among the K-12 set could – and should – be leveraged to benefit students in the learning environment.

“A key tenet of personalized learning is the ability for students to choose the tools that best support their learning tasks,” Frazier added.

The inclusion of smartphones and tablets in schools may actually account in some respect for the rise in smartphone and tablet users in the last five years.

“Many parents, teachers and administrators are now mobile device users themselves, which has increased their appreciation and understanding for how these devices can support and enhance learning,” noted Julie Evans, chief executive officer at Project Tomorrow.

The word “many” may be ambiguous, but Evans elaborated, saying the number is certainly high.

“We found nearly 90 percent of parents say that the effective implementation of technology in instruction will positively impact their child’s future,” said Evans. “This growing understanding has allowed for an increase in the development of personalized educations and a more sophisticated use of technology both in and outside the classroom.” 

Middle schoolers and high schoolers should be happy, not only because of the vast amount of learning they can accomplish with smartphone and tablet integration, but because this educational shift is pushing parents to buy their kids the devices.

Parental approval of smartphone usage has shown a marked increase, with 62 percent of parents now saying they would buy their child a mobile device if it would be used for academic purposes.

Edited by Braden Becker
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