Monday, April 27, 2015

New Research on Teens and Cell Phones and What it Means for BYOD Schools

PEW has just released a new study about teenagers (13-17 year olds) and their cell phone use and ownership.  It's very important for educators to know the statistics around digital divide so they can make more informed decisions around lesson planning.  For example if you teach in a predominately Hispanic school, it is a better decision to use mobile messaging apps over traditional Internet email (because Hispanic students are more likely to have access to Smartphones where they primarily use apps than desktop computers at home).  A few highlights from the study

Getting Online

  • 88% of teenagers own a smartphone (with Internet) or basic cell phone (without Internet)
  • Most teenagers send about 30 text (SMS) messages per day
  • Most popular apps are KIK and WhatsApp
  • 91% of teenagers primarily use a mobile device to go online
  • If teenagers own a mobile device with Internet access, 94% go online daily, while only 68% of teenagers who own a mobile device without Internet access go online each day (through a stand alone computer or other type of device)
This is important for BYOD schools---keep in mind that students without mobile access to the Internet are less likely and/or able to get online daily for homework or class assignments.  

Digital Divide:  Access/Wealth
  • 73% of teenagers (with phone) own or have access to a smartphone
  • 27% of teenagers (with phone) own a featured phone (no Internet)
  • Wealthier teenagers more likely to use SnapChat or WhatsApp over Facebook to socialize, while less wealthy more likely to use Facebook.
This is important for BYOD schools---keep in mind that about 30% cannot access the Internet through their phone, so plan lessons accordingly!

Digital Divide:  Racial/Ethnic
  • 85% of African American teenagers own or have access to smartphone
  • 71% of White or Hispanic teenagers own or have access to smartphone
  • African-American and Hispanic youth report more frequent internet use than white teens, going online 
  • African Americans and Hispanic teenagers more likely to use messaging Apps on Smartphones (46%) compared to While teenagers (24%).
Digital Divide:  Gender
  • Girls are much more likely to participate in social media and apps around socialization
  • Boys are much more likely to play games on their mobile devices

1 comment:

Emily Foynes said...


Although many Irish schools have taken the digital route in recent years I teach in a school that is reluctant to make that leap principally due to financial and ethical concerns. For that reason I found the discussion on Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) policies very interesting.

During staff discussions on the topic in recent years the financial cost to the school and to parents, the sustainability of a smart device programme, the question of maintenance of devices and the possibility of devices becoming obsolete have all been roadblocks to the implementation of technology in the classroom. This blog makes it clear that the BYOD approach could be the answer to these problems amongst others. It is argued that under BYOD schools do not have to purchase, replace and maintain devices. Families can purchase the device that suits them best. Furthermore students can select their own technology, can have 24-hour access to that technology and are not restricted to a single platform decided by the school.

To date BYOD has not been mentioned as possible has not been mentioned as a possible route to digital technology in the classroom in our school. However, as Google's 2015 Consumer Barometer Survey found that 97% of under 25s in Ireland owned smartphones and Ireland is now ranked fifth in Europe for tablet ownership it is probably a viable option. The information in A Parent's Guide to BYOD and Five Common Mistakes Teachers and Schools Make When Implementing BYOD could be a valuable resource when structuring any possible BYOD policy in our school.

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