Google Study Outlines Common Uses for Tablets

TENDER-FOOTED TABLETING: You may want to review this Google study before the next heated debate around digital natives. Presented at the 14th Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services, the study suggests that tablets are mainly used to check email, play games, and engage in social networking. 

Watching the latest iPad trailer might make you think everyone is growing smarter and more creative with technology. Instead the study suggests that reading books, creation activities, and looking up information only comprise 16% of tablet usage. It could be that social media and games are brimming with opportunities for critical thought -- you can always learn something interesting on Facebook, right? But more likely, these numbers indicate that many adults don't know or don't care about the new ways that tablets enable thinking and creating.

The sample data (33 participants, ages 18-70) is hardly robust enough to make any sweeping conclusions, but the study does prompt some difficult questions around digital literacy: What examples are adults setting for youth when using tablet technology? What advantages do tablets present over previous computing devices such as laptops and desktops? And if adults don't recognize these advantages, might they be less digitally literate than children? With all the fanfare behind BYOD and 1:1 mobile computing, these are the questions parents and educators should start asking to ensure the digital naiveté joke's not on them.

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