Pew Releases Teens and Technology (2013)

The Pew Research Center, part of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University has released its 2013 Teens and Technology Report. In this report, the researchers survey and report on how teens (12-18) access technology and what devices they do so with.

Highlights of this year’s findings include:

  •  78% of teens now have a cell phone and almost half of those own a smartphone (iPhone, Android, or the like)
  • 37% of all teens have a smartphone, up from 23% in 2011.
  • 23% of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population
  • 93% of teens have access to a laptop or desktop computer at home. 81% of the of the younger teen users (12-13) rely on a shared computer.
  • 75% of teens say they have access to the Internet on cell phones, tablets and other devices (Xbox, etc.) at least occasionally.
  • 25% of teens are “cell-mostly” Internet users, far more than the 15% of similar adults. Among teen smartphone users, 50% are “cell-moslty”.
  • Older girls, ages 14-17 (34%)are more likely to be cell-mostly users compared to teen boys (24%)
For me, this is the most important quote of the report:

95% of teens are online, a percentage consistent since 2006. Yet, the nature of teens’ internet use has transformed dramatically during that time – from stationary connections tied to desktops in the home to always-on connections that move with them throughout the day…The patterns of their technology use often signal future changes in the adult population.

One of the presentations I have done in the past at conferences such as the Laptop/Learning Institute and the Global Education Conference was entitled, “Smart, Mobile, and Digital: Are These New Devices the Next Computing Platform?” This new report identify the new types of questions we need to be asking and studying:

How does this increased, always available access, change the way that students learn?

In what ways should our learning environments change to support this new way of learning?

Instead of purchasing and making available a variety of devices, why are we not asking students to reach into their pocket and use the technologies that they already have?

Since I began giving that presentation, many obstacles and hurdles have disappeared. Many schools are rethinking and rewriting their cell phone policies. But these are usually for use during free periods and downtime and often not discussions on how to leverage these tools for learning. Yes, I agree we are better off today compared to five years ago, but for many, this movement are more like baby steps and not giant strides.

We really need to stop and ask ourselves, are we best serving our students?

Access the findings and download the report

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