Report: Mobile Devices Appeal to Next Generation Consumers

Stephen Yagielowicz

LOS ANGELES — A recent study by Blackboard, Inc. reveals that half of American high school students, plus 40 percent of middle school attendees, either own or receive access to a Smartphone or tablet — reflecting a 400 percent increase in mobilized Internet devices since 2007.

The findings are important to forward-looking content marketers seeking the pulse of tomorrow’s adult entertainment consumers, which will tend to stick to familiar ground, further hastening the drop in desktop computer usage and the traditional display metaphors it requires.

Indeed, the popularity of Apple computers is due in no small part to the company’s generous school subsidy program that provided previous generations of students with discounted or free access to its product line. This move was undertaken in the belief that the devices students learned on would also be those that they would purchase once they entered the workforce — or would recommend for purchase as small office computer usage became more commonplace.

School administrators are noticing the mobile device takeover and adopting new curriculum to take advantage of the growing trend, while 62 percent of parents report that they would purchase their child a mobile device for academic purposes.

“Many parents, teachers and administrators are now mobile device users themselves, which has increased their appreciation and understanding for how these devices can support and enhance learning,” Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, which co-produced the report, stated, explaining that “Nearly 90 percent of parents say that the effective implementation of technology in instruction will positively impact their child's future.”

“This growing understanding,” Evans added, “has allowed for an increase in the development of personalized education and a more sophisticated use of technology both in and outside of the classroom.”

The report explores how students are combining mobile devices with social media for personalized learning, but a generational gap between these users and their “teachers” who lack experience in this arena is causing concern for administrators struggling to keep up with changes in technology.

It also explains that 75 percent of teachers are concerned with students being distracted or making inappropriate use of mobile devices in the classroom.

“A key tenet of personalized learning is the ability for students to choose the tools that best support their learning tasks,” states Blackboard SVP Brett Frazier. “Young people that have grown up with Smartphones not only understand the value mobile devices can add to the learning environment, but also have a rapidly growing interest in incorporating the technologies.”

For marketers seeking clues to continued relevancy, Smartphones and tablets clearly point the way.