Use of Tablets, Smartphones on the Rise for Tweens and Teens

According to a recent Pearson Education Mobile Device Study, many students believe using a tablet could lighten the load in their backpacks.

The study found that of students in grades 4-12, almost 33% currently own a tablet, and even more, 40%, own a smartphone. 69% of the students surveyed said they would like to use a tablet at school.

And in places like the Momentous Institute in Dallas, that is exactly what's happening, where 300 tablets will be given out under a partnership with AT&T.

The tablets, loaded with educational software, started to be given out yesterday to classrooms of four and five-year-olds.

"We're being very, very mindful to not use technology for technology's sake, we're really looking to use technology to further what we already know works," said Michelle Kinder, the executive director of the Momentous Institute.

First grade teacher Matt McDonnell is the brain behind the software called Famigo. McDonnell became an app developer, hoping to succeed where other districts in the area have failed.

"We're going to measure student learning outcomes and we're going to measure what they are using on the tablet, so that we can, over time, deliver better content to the students," McDonnell said.

Famigo offers a safe approach to the online experience for children using mobile devices. The app ensures that children will only have access to safe, "Famigo approved" content while using a smartphone or tablet.

Famigo CEO Q Beck says, "Bridging the gap between school and home means making education portable, usable and accessible to all age groups, anywhere. Our partnership with AT&T continues to bring educational content to more families on more devices. We're excited to provide families who own the Note Pro or Tab 4 with the opportunity to learn through apps, videos and games."

Houston's A+ Unlimited Potential School will also use tablets in an effort to get kids learning outside the traditional school setting.

Middle school students will hold class in coffee shops and city parks, taking advantage of free Wi-Fi. The children will split their time between field trips like this and a rented space in Houston's Museum District.

The experimental program that encourages schools to spend less time in the classroom and more time exploring the world around them is going on around the country.

Supporters claim that the move will boost student performance, making learning fun while reducing costs within the school.

However, education experts and school officials remind us that not all children will have equal access to the devices after school hours and that the devices can only do so much without a qualified teacher who can implement them effectively.

"Technology is awesome," said Cicely Benoit, an instructor at A+ UP. "But you still can't replace the human and physical connection."

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