"Parents with kids in schools that mandate tablet use are significantly more enthusiastic about tablets," Kevin Carman, education marketing director at AT&T, told InformationWeek/Education in a phone interview.
Underwritten by AT&T, the Living and Learning with Mobile Devices Study was conducted by research and consulting firm Grunwald Associates and the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of 16 education associations.
The AT&T study found that more than 50% of parents believe that schools should make more use of mobile devices in education. Nearly a third (32%) said schools should require mobile devices in the classroom.
[ Are mobile devices taking over education? Read Why Tablets Will Kill Smart Boards In Classrooms. ]
The research analyzed basic technology ownership and usage data from an online sample of 2,392 parents, representing 4,164 children, in November 2012. Quotas were set for the core sample population to match the composition of the U.S. population of parents by household income, ethnicity and geographic region. This sample composition also was balanced to match U.S. Census data on child ages and grade levels, based on National Center for Education Statistics data on the population of pre-K-12 public school students.
Carman said future research would be needed to determine what causes this correlation between exposure to tablets and parental approval of these devices: "Is it the tablet, the teacher's style or something about the school?"
Whatever the cause, the significantly positive view of mobile devices matches the findings of another survey, released earlier this month, on student perceptions. The Student Mobile Device Survey found that children like using laptops, smartphones and tablets, and that a majority (69%) of the elementary, middle and high school students surveyed wanted to use these devices more in the classroom.
The AT&T study also found:
-- 71% of parents say mobile devices open up learning opportunities;
-- 62% say the devices benefit students' learning; and
-- 59% say the devices engage students in the classroom.
Because the survey was "painstakingly" matched to national demographics, Carman said it was representative, and could be a good resource for school leaders interested in understanding parental views about technology. AT&T already has begun working with some school districts that wanted a customized slice of the research for their own geography, he said.
The AT&T survey also highlights how mobile devices have quickly become a standard school supply. For example, the study found that one quarter of all K-12 students bring a smartphone to school every day. (By high school, this percentage increases to more than half.)
In addition, about one in six parents said their children are permitted to use their own mobile devices in the classroom. Perhaps because of this, 45% of parents said they planned to buy, or have already bought, a mobile device to support their child's learning.
"The opportunity is ripe for mobile learning as students are now surrounded with technology, but the study does suggest there is an unmet desire for more learning and educational value from mobile devices, both at home and in school," Peter Grunwald, president of Grunwald Associates LLC, said in a statement.
The survey did uncover at least one issue for parents: 43% said they needed help finding good educational apps for their children.