3 things students want you to know about their technology use

For teachers and administrators to truly reach their students, it's important to understand how and why they use technology, considering how much they love their smartphones.

If the modern classroom teacher could be just as addictive as their students’ iPhones, you’d bet your bottom dollar that students would be performing better than ever academically. Unfortunately, that’s not reality.

Technology has so much to offer students. And while their phones may be seen as a distraction in the classroom, it’s a form of connection: It keeps them up-to-date on current events, gives them a safe space to explore their interests, and social media encourages young people to follow their dreams. That’s according to a recent study from The Social Institute, an online learning platform that aims to encourage students to take on the world with positivity.

And the better educators know their students and how they use technology, the easier it will become to implement engaging learning practices that work.

Based on a survey of nearly 23,000 public school students across the country, this is what students want you to know about their technology and social media use.


For students in 4th through 12th grade, YouTube is their most popular app. What’s surprising is that TikTok, an app that educators frequently use to reach their students, is only the sixth most popular app among 6th- through 12th-graders.

Most popular devices

Understanding which devices students find most appealing is crucial for school districts. If you want to be able to truly reach a student, consider which screen their eyes are set on the most.

  • School-issued technology
    • 9th-12th grade: 61%
    • 6th-8th grade: 80%
    • 4th-5th grade: 73%
  • Television
    • 9th-12th grade: 65%
    • 6th-8th grade: 75%
    • 4th-5th grade: 77%
  • Personal tablet
    • 9th-12th grade: 22%
    • 6th-8th grade: 44%
    • 4th-5th grade: 58%
  • Smartphone
    • 9th-12th grade: 96%
    • 6th-8th grade: 79%
    • 4th-5th grade: 36%
  • Personal desktop or laptop computer
    • 9th-12th grade: 64%
    • 6th-8th grade: 53%
    • 4th-5th grade: 38%
  • Gaming device
    • 9th-12th grade: 38%
    • 6th-8th grade: 45%
    • 4th-5th grade: 47%
  • Kindle, Nook, Fire, or other eReader
    • 9th-12th grade: 5%
    • 6th-8th grade: 9%
    • 4th-5th grade: 11%
  • Smartwatch
    • 9th-12th grade: 22%
    • 6th-8th grade: 23%
    • 4th-5th grade: 20%
  • Voice-activated assistant (Alexa, etc.)
    • 9th-12th grade: 25%
    • 6th-8th grade: 39%
    • 4th-5th grade: 41%

Skills students want to improve 

Aside from wanting teachers to understand how and why they use technology, students believe there’s more to learn in the classroom than the basic curriculum, among them:

  1. Time management: 65%
  2. Communication: 52%
  3. Problem-solving: 43%
  4. Growth mindset: 40%
  5. Research skills: 32%
  6. Teamwork: 27%
  7. Processing current events: 24%
  8. Empathy: 18%

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Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttps://districtadministration.com
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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