Around 1.3m households with school-aged children are likely to have at least one tablet.

Text books are being replaced with tablets as school children head back to school this week according to research released today by Telstra. More than 1 million children will be packing high-tech devices alongside their lunch boxes as they head off to school.

There are estimated to be 1.3m households with school-aged children with at least one tablet, the research shows 62% of these tablet owners, approximately 800,000, have purchased at least one tablet for education purposes. Of the households with school-aged children that do not currently own an educational tablet, a further 40% of households would consider purchasing a tablet for education purposes.

Two pupils leaning on a pile of books while reading on touchpad

Although the research reveals that 71% of parents believe their child’s education has benefited from tablet access, often parents are concerned that their children are spending hours in front of screens, passively consuming content.

Shelly Gorr, a senior adviser in Telstra’s Digital Inclusion team says parents have a role to play to ensure their children are getting the most out of their digital tools.

“An emerging trend is the ‘digital maker’ movement: using technology to further explore children’s passions and hobbies, opening up richer digital experiences and new avenues for creativity and expression. This might be digital storytelling, or making art, music and video with digital tools.

“At a deeper level, digital making involves learning about the underlying technology itself, such as learning how to code to create your own website, app or game, or design and 3D print an object.”

Gorr said it’s important for children to learn and practice these skills, especially as the need for digital literacy increases.

“With 75% of the fastest-growing occupations set to require science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills, increasing kids’ digital literacy can help equip them with the skills they will likely need for their future, including computational, systems and design-thinking skills that can also be transferred into other aspects of life.

With so many children heading back to school toting a brand-new device, or already being a tablet pro, now is the perfect time to set your kids up for a great digital year, starting with a ‘digital hygiene check’.

This also presents an opportunity for parents to help set up their children’s devices properly from the get-go, and to talk with their children about responsible device use.

“In a lot of instances, parents have bought their children a device for school, but don’t know how to manage it, or they aren’t aware of the implications of their child using a device”.

ˇThis figure is an estimate and has been extrapolated based on the number of households that have purchased at least one tablet for education purposes.

About the research: The Telstra Connected Tablets Research was conducted online in October, 2015. It involved surveying 500 respondents, which included 100 teachers and 400 parents of school aged children 5-17 years old. They needed to have been considering or have recently purchased a tablet specifically for their child’s education. The responses to the research are shown as percentages relative to the total market data provided by the Australian Bureau Statistics: 4221.0 – Schools, Australia, 2014.