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Extension > Youth Development Insight > Mobile learning apps connect with youth

Mobile learning apps connect with youth

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Carrie-Ann-Olson.jpgSometimes it seems as though everywhere you look, people are using their phones. But what are they using them for? The Pew Internet Research Project reports that teen texting volume is up in 2012 while the frequency of voice calling is down. About three-quarters (77%) of teens have a cell phone; one in four say they own smartphones.

American teens on average are sending or receiving 3,339 texts a month, or more than six for every hour they're awake, according to a Nielsen Company report: Calling Yesterday, Texting Today, Using Apps Tomorrow. Although texting is at an all-time high, the largest area of growth was in teen data usage, from 14 MB to 62 MB per month. Almost half of teens surveyed reported using an app 10 times per day -- more frequently than general grooming and eating.

So how are you connecting with this mobile youth society? Do you text? Do you push kids-with-smartphones.jpgmeeting reminders? Do you have mobile apps that support the topic you are teaching while encouraging youth to build mastery in areas of interest? A recent presentation by Barbara Chamberlin, Extension instructional design and educational media specialist , New Mexico State University states that technology is changing the way our clientele work, think and play. We need to remember our basic learning objectives and then take those objectives into a mobile learning environment.

Healthy living, the programming area that interests me the most, seems to be a popular supported learning objective with mobile learning apps. However, where some apps get complicated, the Eat & Move-O-Matic will help you learn about the foods you eat and how they help fuel your body for your favorite activities. The Eat & Move-O-Matic was developed to support the National 4-H "Youth Voice: Youth Choice" program, and offers a simple and fun way to engage kids and adults alike in learning about the relationship between nutrition and exercise. The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award + Challenge encourages physical activity and building healthy eating habits with a online tracking of activity.

Games can make you happier. In a previous blog entry, Trudy Dunham challenged us to take advantage of games to promote youth learning and development. I believe that mobile learning apps can go a step further and encourage "anytime, anywhere" learning, as well as reach underserved children, because they are relatively low-cost.

Do you see the benefits of mobile learning apps? Do you have a favorite health app? How have you used any mobile learning apps to support your youth development learning environments?

-- Carrie Ann Olson

Extension educator & associate Extension professor, educational design & development


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