A new PBS survey has 70% of parents reporting that they allow their kids to use their iPad. The habit is so widespread that the average number of apps such people downloaded for their kids was eight—meaning well over 10% of the apps on the average iPad that's shared with kids are specifically chosen for kids. More than 40% of these kids used the iPad at least once per day. And though they're frequently used for entertainment, 90% of parents suggest that "educational value" is the key criteria when choosing an app for kids.
As part of its press release revealing its new PBS Kids Video for iPad app—an app designed to give families "free streaming access to more than 1,000 videos from top PBS Kids and PBS Kids Go! series"—the organization conducted a survey of iPad use. The conclusions are interesting, and suggest that in many ways the iPad, much as the hula hoop once was, is for kids.
PBS's survey didn't go into the reasons why parents were happy to hand over a $500 to $800 computing device so readily to kids, but we can suspect there are two key reasons that are in play: The iPad is inherently easy to use due to its touchscreen and iOS—there are very few learning barriers for the user experience to separate the user from the content they're interacting with, making it ideal for younger users.
Plus when you hand over a traditional laptop to your kids you have a number of concerns—starting with the structural worries about the screen hinge if they drop it even a short distance, then there's the potential for data loss with a bumped hard drive, erased files or confused OS's with random keypresses, and (for the youngest users) dribble or liquid in general making its way inside through the keyboard. Most of these concerns don't apply for tablets like the iPad or Android competitors—and the screen, though precious and sensitive to drops, is wipe-clean...plus the slate-like design makes it easier to hold. Perhaps the price is in play here too—the iPad typically costs much less than a full-on notebook computer.
Does this statistic explain there's some sense behind the drive to adopt iPads and tablets in general in classrooms? It certainly underscores that mobile computing has entered a new age—one where we're increasingly confident about handing hundreds of dollars worth of computer to our children for fun and learning.
[Image: Flickr user bengrey]