Understanding children’s use of apps in the home learning environment

Ipsos MORI's latest research for the Department for Education gathered evidence on a range of issues relevant to children aged 0 to 5, including children’s use of apps, and barriers faced by parents in taking part in home learning activities.

The author(s)

  • Tom Huskinson Public Affairs
  • Anna Tench Public Affairs
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Ipsos MORI was commissioned by the Department for Education to carry out a survey of parents with a child aged 0 to 5, to understand a range of issues relevant to home learning and early education. These included children’s use of apps, barriers faced by parents in taking part in home learning activities, employers’ role in childcare provision, and parents’ appetite for switching childcare provider. A total of 876 interviews were conducted by telephone between June and July 2019.

Our research found that most children (81%) aged 0 to 5 had used an app on a smartphone or tablet in the last six months. Overall three-quarters (75%) had used an app either associated with, or explicitly focused upon, learning and development in this period, ranging from 53% among children aged 0 to 2, and 88% among children aged 3 to 5. The most frequently used types of learning and development app were those which involved playing games or trying to solve puzzles (used by 62% of children aged 0 to 5), those involving counting or understanding numbers (61%), and those involving looking at letters, the alphabet, or reading words (60%).

We also found that while over half (52%) of parents said they played pretend games together or took turns in fun activities with their child every day, a-quarter (25%) said they often struggle to fit learning and play activities with their child into their daily routine.

This research comes as the Department for Education announces the launch of 6 new apps (published on the Hungry Little Minds website) that focus on early literacy, language and communication, as part of the government’s drive to help parents make informed decisions about the use of technology in creating positive learning environments at home.

The author(s)

  • Tom Huskinson Public Affairs
  • Anna Tench Public Affairs

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