Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices have gained popularity as educational tools in part because of the belief those devices could cut across the digital divide created by socioeconomic boundaries.
Now a new study reinforces that perspective, finding that students’ access to mobile devices, in this country anyway, is more often a question of parents’ attitudes toward mobile learning than a family’s income or the mobile device provisions of that family’s local school district.
The report published by Grunwald Associates and the Learning First Alliance with support from AT&T, found that, according to data from a representative nationwide sample of nearly 2,400 parents, more than four in five K-12 students at least occasionally use some sort of computing device, including mobile devices like tablets or smartphones, or laptop computers.
Further, although there was some association between parent income and the 18 percent of students who don’t use devices at home, more than half of those non-using students were found to live in houses where parents own at least one such device, often a smartphone.
The cause of non-use in those cases is “some other reason that probably revolves around the attitudes of parents and, by extension, the students toward the smartphone,” said Peter Grunwald, the president and founder of Grunwald Associates, a research firm based in Bethesda, Md., known for its work on ed-tech related projects. “The ubiquity of mobile technology in everyday life I think comes through loud and clear in this study. Families own multiple devices, even families that are not well off.”
Income did affect the number of computing devices per household, however. Overall, the study found families with an income of under $25,000 were found to own an average of 3.3 devices per household, a figure that includes desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones and Continue reading