While mobile devices can be used for information or education, many children aren’t taking advantage of the technology. According to a study published on Friday, two-thirds of the young Americans now have access to an e-reader or tablet, but only half of them actually use it to read.
Conducted by Joan Ganz Cooney Center, researchers surveyed nearly 1,600 parents on how much time their two- to 10-year-old children spent with educational content on televisions, computers and video games.
Sixty-two percent of survey respondents said their children had access to either a tablet computing device, but only 49 percent said their child used the devices for reading, the study said. The children averaged about five minutes a day reading on a tablet – compared with about half an hour for printed books.
The researchers also found that the youngest children in the study were the greatest consumers of educational material – with consumption of these materials dropping off as age increased.
Kids between two to four put in the most time with academic media, averaging 1 hour and 16 minutes every day with either TV or on-line courses, the study found. For 5- to 7-year-olds, the daily average dropped to 50 minutes and for 8- to 10-year-olds that average fell to 42 minutes each day.
“At a younger and younger age, kids are accustomed to using these tools,” report author Victoria Rideout, told the Washington Post. “Companies see this trend and are creating much more content that is for the very youngest kids and marketing that content as educational.”
According to the report, parents said they believed their children learned “a lot” from educational media, and 4-in-10 said their children would discuss something they learned from educational television and apps. The researchers added that television continues to dominate media consumption in homes.
“For every subject except math, parents are more likely to say their child has learned a lot about it from educational television than from any other platform,” the researchers wrote in their report. “Educational content on mobile devices was ranked lowest in learning by parents in every subject area.”
Survey respondents also said their children probably learn the least about science from educational media.
“Nineteen percent of parents say their child has learned “a lot” about science from an educational media platform, compared to 37 percent for reading and cognitive skills development and 28 percent for math,” the researchers wrote.
When looking into the demographics of their study, the researchers discovered that Hispanic parents are the least likely to report that their child uses educational media.
“For example, among Hispanic-Latino parents of weekly educational media users, 63 percent say their child has learned a lot or some about math from computers, compared to 91 percent of black and 79% of white parents,” the report said.
The study researchers concluded that more information need to be given to parents regarding the benefits of educational media, citing 55 percent of parents in the survey who said they wanted “more information from experts about how to find good TV shows, games, and websites to support their child’s learning.”