College Kids Cool On Tablets, Still Annoyed By Mobile Ads

Tablets aren’t so hot with the college crowd anymore. About 29% of students report that they own a tablet in 2014, representing a slight decline from 2012, according to a new Ball State University study. The most popular model is an iPad, owned by 14.2%, trailed by Samsung’s Galaxy Tab -- a distant second, at 1.1%. Another 13.6% use a variety of other tablet brands.
 
“Tablets are for entertainment purposes, not for writing papers and doing class projects -- key components of higher education," says Michael Hanley, an advertising professor and director of Ball State's Institute for Mobile Media Research, in announcing the findings. For classwork, students still turn to devices with physical keyboards -- laptops and PCs.
 
Still, he noted that many students plan to get a tablet after graduating to watch movies, play games or access social sites. About 8% said they plan to get a tablet in 2014.
 
When it comes to smartphones, by contrast, the Ball State study showed that students have embraced the devices in a big way over the last five years. Usage has climbed to 89% from 51%, while feature phone use has tumbled from 62% to 12%.
 
About nine in 10 access social media on smartphones, up from half in 2009, while watching video on handsets has increased to 80% from 24%.
 
One finding that has been consistent in the 10 years Hanley has studied media consumption by college students is that they are really annoyed by mobile ads. About 65% of students report receiving mobile ads, and 70% of them don’t like it. For smartphone users, 75% are getting ads -- up 14 percentage points from 2009.
 
“At one point, students said they would accept ads if they got something like a coupon or free downloads, but now 58% of smartphone and feature phone users are not interested in free stuff,” Hanley said. “Marketers are going to have to address how they reach this group.”
 
And everyone else. Annoyance at mobile ads is not limited to college students. Among other factoids from the report:
 
*About 89% of smartphone owners use GPS to find locations of restaurants, retail outlets and movie theaters.
*Parents pay the bill for 61% of smartphone and 58% of feature phone users.
*Half of students report text messaging while in class.

"College kids looking at tablet" photo from Shutterstock.
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