Youngsters understand technology better than adults - true or false?

Typing on a computer keyboardIt’s an old adage, perpetuated by the media, that children and young people understand technology better than adults in their mid 40’s and beyond, but is this correct?

As an ICT teacher, I have, on occasions, had the pleasant experience of a student approaching me and saying that when they have been playing around at home with a software package that we’ve been using in school, they have discovered something really cool. They then demonstrate their new knowledge and, with a mischievous glint in their eye, ask me “did you know you could do that sir?” Now, when I declare that I did not, they respond by saying “but, how come you’re the teacher and now I’m teaching you stuff?”

In it’s recently published annual study of British consumers, the communications watchdog OfCom states that the advent of broadband in or around the start of this new millennium, created a generation of digital natives, the youngest of which are learning to operate digital devices before they are able to talk.

According to OfCom, these youngsters are “…developing fundamentally different communication habits from older generations, even compared to the 16 - 24 year old age group.”

For this research, the watchdog developed a ‘digital quotient’ (DQ) test measuring awareness and self confidence around technology from smartphones to smart watches, awareness and understanding of super-fast broadband, 4G networks and mobile apps.

The watchdog studied 800 children and 2000 adults and in the 6 to 7 year old age group the average DQ score was 98, whilst for those in the 45 - 49 age group the average DQ score was 96. The research demonstrated that digital understanding peaks around the ages of 14 -15, with a DQ score of 113. It then gradually reduces through adult years and drops significantly in old age.

Back to my cheeky student, standing in front of me with a gleeful, self-satisfied grin on their face. I explain that although I’m the teacher, they, as a care-free, youngster, possess far more of a precious commodity than me, which allows them, at will, to meander through the tools and functionality of an app…


And I believe this is one of the reasons why, apparently, this phenomena occurs. The average young person comes home from school and after (hopefully) completing homework and eating a meal, the evening is pretty much their own to do as they please, so, should they be inclined to play with a web design package or try to write a program in a particular computer language or even just become familiar with an app that all their friends have been using, they have the time to do just that. Adults, on the other hand, have careers, family duties and other commitments that constantly demand their time and therefore have limited opportunity (and also the energy) to raise their awareness and learn what the latest technology can offer them, unless it is necessary for their work.

It is also my opinion that young peoples’ susceptibility to fashions or trends is a contributory factor to this issue.

OfCom’s report stated that whereas 18% of the children used the picture messaging app. ‘Snapchat’ and a further 11% knew a lot about it, almost half of the adults questioned had never heard of it. Could it be that once adults find out about say, a social networking app. and learn how to use it, they do not see the point of learning how to use another app that appears to do the same thing - just with pictures, purely because it happens to be ‘in’?

Indeed, many teachers use Facebook - the original social networking site but, how many have you ever over heard say “D’yer know what, Facebook is just so ‘yesterday’, I’m moving over to Snapchat!”?

What do you think of this issue? Do you believe that just because young people have grown up in the ‘digital age’ they are inherently better equipped to use technology and to immerse it into their lives? Or do you think it’s just that they have the free-time to find out about what tech is cool to use and how to do it? Do you think that there are other reasons? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.

Written by Steve Gresty on August 20, 2014 08:26

What turns young people off apps?

E-safety TabletA new piece of Voxburner research into young people and their attitudes and behaviours when it comes to using apps reveals that 67% of 16-24s find ads the biggest turn-off when it comes to apps.

Apps that take too long to load (45%), too many push notifications (34%) and requiring to login to use an app (30%) were other key reasons apps can be a turn-off for young people. 35% of respondents also shared of their frustration when an app isn’t available on their mobile platform.

28% of respondents say they always turn off push notifications as soon as they download an app, whilst 60% say they will turn them off if they get too many notifications. 43% say that negative reviews will have an impact on whether they decide to download an app.

The majority of 16-24s (73%) have a core number of 1 - 10 apps that they use on a weekly basis, despite 53% saying they have more than 30 apps downloaded on their phone in total. 14% of respondents have over 50 apps downloaded, whilst 4% have more than 100.

It’s social networking apps (81%) and game apps (70%) that are used the most often - Tumblr, Spotify, YouTube and BBC all feature highly. Weather apps, included in so many default installations, are popular, with 42% of those surveyed using them actively each week. We see that women are more interested in health and fitness apps and photo and video apps, whilst men are using sports and entertainment apps more than women. Blackboard and Evernote were mentioned specifically by students or recent graduates as the top app that helped them at university this year.

Commenting on the results, Precious Hamilton-Brown, Creative Coordinator for Swiftkey, says: “The best apps are those that solve a problem and stand the test of time - the ones you rely on regularly because they improve the overall experience of using your phone. Some apps entice a download but then remain neglected until that inevitable day when your storage space is low and it’s time for a ruthless deleting spree! Young people rightly have high expectations when it comes to giving away a prime spot on their homescreen. They expect quality apps that deliver genuine value, keeping them coming back for more. Companies that want to grow their teenage fanbase must have integrity, credibility and not rest on their laurels for a moment.”

When asked how they feel about the new Facebook messenger app, 44% of 16-24s say it annoys them that it’s now a separate app, whilst 15% say they don’t use Facebook on their phone at all.

Luke Mitchell, Head of Insight at Voxburner, says: “The number of apps young people keep on their phone indicate that there’s no space for those that aren’t providing fun or utility. Annoy them with excessive push notifications or intrusive ads and you’ll feel the full impact of the ‘uninstall’ button.

Claire, aged 18 from Medway, adds: “Facebook just seems to get boring, it's the same old thing day in day out. Typically the other apps [YouTube, WhatsApp, Skype] seem to be more direct communication with individuals, a platform for conversation, or in YouTube's case, watching and finding new things, whether it be music, funny cat videos or anything else.”

Jennie, aged 20 from Brighton, says: “I recently upgraded my phone to the iPhone 5C. It took me a while to decide whether to get an iPhone or change to a Samsung but in the end I decided it would be easier to stay with the iPhone (I had a 4 before) as I wouldn't lose all my apps and wouldn't have to faff around sorting out my music either.”

The full research on Young people and apps can be downloaded for free on the Voxburner website.

Written by E-safety Support on July 31, 2014 09:10

Trend spotting at Bett

Bett ShowDuring last week’s Bett Show, we took the opportunity to take a look at the education trends that were emerging from an e-safety perspective.

Unsurprisingly, by far the biggest trend is that of using portable devices and Apps to support education and learning. There were over 500 online resources on show along with hundreds of devices including BYOD, tablets, touch-screens, webcams and a host of Apps too – the list goes on.

With all this access to technology and the Internet, it’s easy to get swept along with the shiny new gadgets and flash Apps to help engage students in and out of the classroom – anything that supports this should of course be encouraged.

But with all this change in the way we teach and learn it’s vital to remember that e-safety should come as part and parcel of any new technology we choose to use with students. That’s not necessarily to say that new devices should prohibit certain websites for example, but that we should be aware of any potential risks we place in front of students. Does a new App allow users to engage with each-other? If so, do we know who the other users are? Can the activity be monitored? And so on.

We should always know the pros and cons and make students conscious of them too before integrating new technology into the classroom. That said, there were some great examples on show that combine new technology with good e-safety practice.

If you have encountered good or bad examples of devices or Apps that you would like to share with fellow teachers, please let us know by using the comment form below.

Written by E-safety Support on January 30, 2014 11:40

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