Tablets replace text books as children head back to school

Media Release, 27 January 2016
  • 1.3m households with school-aged children likely to have at least one tablet
  • 62% of these tablet owners have purchased the device for education
  • 40% of households with school children that don’t have a device are considering purchasing a tablet for education

Text books are being replaced with tablets as school children head back to school this week.

Research released today by Telstra estimates that more than 1 million children will be packing high-tech devices alongside their lunch boxes as they head off to school .

While there are estimated to be 1.3m households with school-aged children that have at least one tablet, the research shows 62 per cent of these tablet owners – approximately 800,000 – have purchased at least one tablet for education purposes. Of the households with school-aged children that do not currently own an educational tablet, a further 40 per cent of households would consider purchasing a tablet for education purposes .

While 71 per cent of parents believe their child’s education has benefited from tablet access , often parents are concerned that their children are spending hours in front of screens, passively consuming content.

Shelly Gorr, a senior adviser in Telstra’s Digital Inclusion team says parents have a role to play to ensure their children are getting the most out of their digital tools.

“Parents can play a part in encouraging their children to become digital creators rather than just consumers of technology, to improve digital literacy and set them up for the careers of the future.

“An emerging trend is the ‘digital maker’ movement: using technology to further explore children’s passions and hobbies, opening up richer digital experiences and new avenues for creativity and expression. This might be digital storytelling, or making art, music and video with digital tools.

“At a deeper level, digital making involves learning about the underlying technology itself, such as learning how to code to create your own website, app or game, or design and 3D print an object.”

Ms Gorr says it’s important for children to learn and practice these skills, especially as the need for digital literacy increases.

“With 75 per cent of the fastest-growing occupations set to require science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills , increasing kids’ digital literacy can help equip them with the skills they will likely need for their future, including computational, systems and design-thinking skills that can also be transferred into other aspects of life.

With so many children heading back to school toting a brand-new device, or already being a tablet pro, now is the perfect time to set your kids up for a great digital year, starting with a ‘digital hygiene check’.

This also presents an opportunity for parents to help set up their children’s devices properly from the get-go, and to talk with their children about responsible device use.

“In a lot of instances, parents have bought their children a device for school, but don’t know how to manage it, or they aren’t aware of the implications of their child using a device".

ˇThis figure is an estimate and has been extrapolated based on the number of households that have purchased at least one tablet for education purposes.

“Often, this is because parents incorrectly think they need to be an expert, or that it costs money to promote safe and responsible device use. There are a number of simple steps every parent can take that don’t cost money, and which will ensure their children are using their devices responsibly.

“These are things like setting ground rules and agreeing limits on usage; ensuring the device is password-protected; turning off devices when kids go to bed; and reminding kids to be respectful when posting content online.”

About the research: The Telstra Connected Tablets Research was conducted online in October, 2015. It involved surveying 500 respondents, which included 100 teachers and 400 parents of school aged children 5-17 years old. They needed to have been considering or have recently purchased a tablet specifically for their child’s education. The responses to the research are shown as percentages relative to the total market data provided by the Australian Bureau Statistics: 4221.0 – Schools, Australia, 2014.

Top ideas to start a safe and responsible digital school year:

  • Help your children set up their devices to maximize safety – Ensure they are password-protected and lock automatically and that the privacy settings on their various accounts and social media are turned on and strengthened. Make the most of parental controls to help avoid inappropriate content, whether through the inherent functionality of Apple and Android devices, or via Telstra products and services such as Telstra Mobile Protect and Telstra Broadband Protect.
  • Set ground rules – Smartphones, tablets and laptops are all expensive to replace, so give kids some responsibility for the care and maintenance of their devices. Set parameters around how much data can be used and who will pay for in-app purchases or if they exceed their data limit.
  • Balance screen time with offline activities – Encourage kids to have some screen-free time each day and turn off devices before bedtime for a better night’s sleep.
  • Value personal information – Talk to your children about the value of personal information, what it is and why it’s important to be careful sharing it.
  • Use your device for good – Teach kids to treat others the same way they’d like to be treated online, encouraging them to take a moment to consider whether a message, post or image could upset or embarrass someone else.
  • Get your digital licence – Help kids hone their digital smarts with the eSmart Digital Licence, an engaging and interactive cyber safety quiz (age 10+).

Top ideas for sparking young digital makers:

  • Coding – Flex your kids’ coding smarts with free visual programming languages Scratch (ages 8+) and ScratchJr (ages 5–7) to create interactive stories, games and animations; or enrol them in a Code Club, a nationwide network of free, volunteer-led, after school coding clubs for 9–11 year-olds.
  • Music-making – Discover the joys of composing with Incredibox, by creating a free musical mix with your very own beatbox crew, then record and share it (age 8+); or by composing with Noteflight, budding musicians can write their own music (teens).
  • Art-making – Unleash your kids’ inner artist with Sketchbook, a free digital drawing app for sketching, designing, doodling and more (teens) or try deluxe creative tool ArtSet (age 7+), downloadable from the iTunes store.
  • Publishing – Create beautiful stories with WePublish which allows you to write, illustrate, publish and print your own 8-page book (age 5+), or make stunning free visual stories with Storybird (age 6+).
  • Media-making – make radio, podcasts, TV or other digital media with SYN Media’s online resources (ages 12+).
  • Building – Get building with a ‘sandbox’ program like Minecraft. Think digital Lego without the risk of tripping on blocks! Players place and break blocks in a 3D environment while “mining” for materials they need for their character to live (age 5+).

1 ‘Telstra Connected Tablets’ research, October 2015
2 ‘Telstra Connected Tablets’ research, October 2015
3 ‘Telstra Connected Tablets’ research, October 2015
4 ‘Telstra Connected Tablets’ research, October 2015
5 ‘A smart move’. PwC STEM report April 2015.