An Australian psychologist suggests we don’t quite know what will happen with lots of young children now using tablets and other electronics:
Research indicates that almost half of all toddlers up to two years old have played with a mobile device. It also reveals that 15 per cent of that group can also operate a home entertainment system. That rises to 31 per cent of three- to five-year-olds and a third of six- to eight-year-olds.
The study of 750 adults across Australia who have an internet connection included questions about how children interact with technology and was conducted by media intelligence firm Magna Global.
Most frequently used were iPads (27 per cent for three- to five-year-olds and 43 per cent for six- to eight-year-olds) followed by Wi-Fi-enabled laptops (21 per cent for three- to five-year-olds and 38 per cent for six- to eight-years-olds)…
Jordy Kaufman, a child psychologist and founder of the Swinburne BabyLab, has studied how children interact with devices. ”Given the massive uptake of mobile device use by young kids, we can be said to be engaged in a grand sociological experiment where no one knows what the results will be,” he said.
But he cautions that just because we do not know the outcome, that does not mean the use of devices is negative. There are opportunities for learning from iPads that did not exist before, Dr Kaufman said.
I suppose there are three possible reactions to the situation. Go all in and see the use of mobile electronics as simply part of the progress of the modern world. Americans tend to like progress and new opportunities and these devices certainly fulfill these two requirements. This full usage may occur even with evidence that they don’t contribute much to learning. The opposite reaction is to not allow children access to such devices. To some degree, this is helped by the fact that such devices are not yet completely ubiquitous. But, some may want to wait and see how children respond to mobile devices. And, there is some middle ground where children could use new electronics in moderation alongside more “traditional” activities.
It sounds like we need some sort of randomized experiment to help figure this out. But, we are getting close to a time where it would be really difficult to pull this off.
Derek Thompson discusses new data from Pew that suggests young adult Americans are looking for “print-like” experiences when reading online news:
But a new report from the Pew Research Center (pdf) suggests that, when it comes to reading the news on mobile devices, young people aren’t so different. First, they use their tablets and smartphones to read the news at nearly identical rates to 30- and 40-somethings. According to Pew, between 30 and 50 percent of practically every demographic, except seniors, uses mobile phones and tablets to read news — whether it’s men or women, college-educated or not, making less than $30,000 per year or more than $75,000. All told: Thirtysomethings and fortysomethings are just as likely as teens and twentysomethings to use their smartphones and tablets for news…
Here’s another surprise. Young mobile readers don’t want apps and mobile browsers that look like the future. They want apps that look like the past: 58% of those under 50, and 60% of Millennials, prefer a “print-like experience” over tech features like audio, video, and complex graphics. That preference toward plain text “tends to hold up across age, gender and other groups.” Pew reports: “Those under 40 prefer the print-like experience to the same degree as those 40 and over.”
While this report suggests different age groups consume news in similar ways, even with differences in video watching and how much news they share, I wonder if they get the same things out of their reading. Are they reading different kinds of stories? On different websites? Are they reading the same volume of news stories? Physically reading the screen in the same way? Reading the news with the same purposes? Retaining the same information? Wanting to read “print-like” news with similar devices means something but I suspect there could still be some major differences between these groups.
The Daily Herald had an editorial yesterday that argued tablets used by students at school and home need to be used appropriately:
Other districts also have committed to the devices’ use, though some taxpayers might see them as an extravagance. Educators get just as starry-eyed over new technology as the rest of us, and why shouldn’t they? Kids are growing up with lightning-fast change in the electronic tools we use every day. This is the world they know and will need to keep knowing, and schools are adapting.
But how they adapt is key. Without good policies and solid technology plan that includes training and evaluation, the tablet revolution — called “one-to-one” programs by educators — could amount to little more than handing kids high-tech notebooks at best or, worse, free video gaming.
Gurnee Elementary District 56, for one, is rolling out its iPad initiative for middle-schoolers this week and appears to be doing things right by involving parents in a checkout night with consent forms, user agreements, guidelines and a downloadable instruction manual. It cannot stop there, however, nor can administrators be certain those 46-page manuals will be read.
Perhaps the most important way to make these devices as cost-effective as possible is to ensure teachers on the front lines have the training to use them to their fullest and to focus the instruction on learning, not the device.
The rest of the article goes on to talk about the appropriate use of tablets but the key is here in the last sentence of the quote above. Do the tablets and iPads contribute to student learning? It is one thing to suggest students need to learn about new technology. This is helpful in itself, particularly for kids who may not have consistent access at home. And tablets may help students to be more engaged in the classroom. But, there is a bigger question that should be asked here: does using a tablet help students learn math or reading or science or social studies or other subjects better?
Nielsen just released the Social Media Report 2012 (more data here). Here are a few things to note:
Facebook remains the most-visited social network in the U.S. via PC (152.2 million visitors), mobile apps (78.4 million users) and mobile web (74.3 million visitors), and is multiple times the size of the next largest social site across each platform. The site is also the top U.S. web brand in terms of time spent, as some 17 percent of time spent online via personal computer is on Facebook.
-More than 70% of Pinterest’s users are female.
-The top three reasons by far for why social networks users become connected/friends: know person in real life, interested in keeping up, mutual friends. This is more evidence that social networks are mainly about maintaining existing connections rather than creating new connections.
-Watching TV is increasingly linked to tablet, smartphone, and Twitter usage. Multitasking is alive and well and perhaps TV can be interactive after all.
There is also some fascinating data at the end about social media usage around the world.