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New National Survey Finds That More Than a Third of Middle School Students Use Mobile Devices for Homework; Yet Mobile-Device Use Is Still Not Common In Classrooms

MIT's Center for Mobile Learning at the Media Lab and Verizon Foundation Join Forces to Strengthen Student Engagement in STEM Through the Use of Mobile Technology

NEW YORK, Nov. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- More than one in three middle school students are using mobile devices to complete homework, and more of those who use these devices for learning in the classroom express a strong interest in science, technology and math than those who do not, according to a new national survey. 

The survey, conducted by TRU and commissioned by the Verizon Foundation, also found that more than 66 percent of students are not allowed to use a tablet for learning purposes in the classroom, and 88 percent are not allowed to use a smartphone.

The findings highlight the gap that exists between how children want to learn and the restrictions they face in the classroom due to a variety of factors that the Verizon Foundation and other national organizations concerned with increasing student access to mobile technology for learning are working to address.

"Our research supports the fact that mobile technology can inspire and engage students today," said Rose Stuckey Kirk, president of the Verizon Foundation.  "We need to meet children where they are and leverage their use of mobile devices to increase their interest in STEM – especially since STEM jobs are increasing at three times the rate of jobs in other fields, and the number of graduates in the US earning degrees in STEM is decreasing."

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • For the first time, the survey's respondents indicated that they were using mobile devices for homework.  In previous surveys, the respondents said they were using the devices largely for entertainment and to keep in touch with others.
  • More Hispanic (49 percent) and African-American (42 percent) middle school students are using their smartphones for homework than Caucasian students (36 percent).   
  • Smartphone use for homework also crosses income levels, with 29 percent of the students from the lowest-income households reporting smartphone usage to do their homework assignments.  

The full report of the survey results can be found at

Transforming STEM Education Through Technology

To tap into students' interest in mobile technology as a tool for learning, the Technology Student Association and the Verizon Foundation partnered to launch the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.  This national student competition encourages middle and high school students, working in teams with a faculty advisor, to conceptualize a mobile application that incorporates STEM and addresses a real problem or issue in their schools or communities.

Ten winning teams – five from middle schools and five from high schools – will be selected.  These team members and their advisors will receive in-person, hands-on training and ongoing virtual support from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Mobile Learning at the Media Lab to help build their apps using MIT's App Inventor and bring them to the marketplace.  Winning team members will also receive Samsung Galaxy Tabs and their schools will receive $10,000 cash grants from the Verizon Foundation to enhance STEM education.

MIT also will assist in judging the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, along with an expert panel of judges from Samsung, Vodafone, National Geographic, New York Hall of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the National Academy Foundation.

Middle school and high school student teams can submit their app design concepts from Dec. 1 through Jan. 18, 2013.  More information is available at

Survey Methodology

Verizon Foundation commissioned TRU to conduct quantitative research on middle school students' use of technology.  TRU conducted 1,000 online interviews among sixth- to eighth-grade students, ages 11-14, yielding a margin of error of + 3.0 percentage points. The interviews were conducted from Oct. 4 through Oct. 12, 2012. The sample of 1,000 students was broken out as follows: 332 sixth graders (166 males and 166 females); 332 seventh graders (166 males and 166 females); and 336 eighth graders (167 males and 169 females).  A quota was also set to ensure a minimum of 200 respondents with a household income of $25,000 or less.  The final total for this quota is n=273.  Unless otherwise noted, all reported data is based on a statistically reliable base size of n=100 or greater.

About TRU

TRU is the global leader in youth research and insights, focusing on tweens, teens and twenty-somethings. For more than 25 years, TRU has provided the insights that have helped many of the world's most successful companies and organizations develop meaningful connections with young people. As an advocate for young people, TRU has provided critical direction for many of the nation's most prominent and successful social-marketing campaigns, helping to keep young people safe and healthy. TRU's work has made a difference – from being put to use at the grass-roots level to being presented at the very highest levels of government.

About the Verizon Foundation

The Verizon Foundation is focused on accelerating social change by using the company's innovative technology to help solve pressing problems in education, health care and energy management. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon's employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.2 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information about Verizon's philanthropic work, visit; or for regular updates, visit the Foundation on Facebook ( and Twitter (


SOURCE Verizon

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