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At home with the iPad

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Families turn on to appeal of new technology

When Apple launched the iPad in the UK in May 2010, Intersperience predicted that families held the ultimate key to the success of the new tablet device, arguing that its adoption in the home would be critical.

Nine months after the iPad’s launch, Intersperience is midway into qualitative research for a major strategic study ‘Digital Selves’ which is looking at how modern technology is affecting the way we live.

We bring you a snapshot of some of our latest research straight from the field, delivering fascinating insights into how different generations from tiny toddlers to teens and parents are engaging with the iPad in different ways.

Mr R (a married father of four children including a newborn, a toddler, a 10 year-old and a 16 year old) shared his views and experiences on the iPad with our researchers as part of the upcoming wider ‘Digital Selves’ report.

Mr R comments: “We’ve had the iPad since September 2010. I wanted to know what it was all about..I suppose compared to most people I probably am quite up to speed on new things...We’re already quite a ‘connected’ household - we have a wireless network, three Macs, two of the kids have iPods and I’ve got a laptop and iPhone.”

The R family however do not have a television and view TV progammes through their Macs, a decision based on a desire to limit the time the children spend watching television.

Mr R bought the iPad for himself but has shared it with his family and says he still uses it most, followed by his wife, and then his two and a half year old who has mastered the iPad with surprising ease. “He worked out how to use it quite quickly, the touch screen is quite intuitive, now we have to hide it away. The kids like the drawing Apps you can use to paint with your finger.” However, Mr R says there is a limited choice of Apps for Under-5s.

The older children use the iPad less, partly because they have to fight for their share but also because they are doing different things online, says Mr R. His 16 year old spends a lot of time on Facebook and prefers to do that in the privacy of his room while the iPad is used all over the house. “That’s the really good thing about the iPad you can use it anytime, anywhere - I take it out with me too, I use it on the bus, it’s easier than opening a laptop,” he says.

Mr R says the family mainly uses the iPad is mainly for leisure, although not for music. He uses it for photographs, writing, some reading, helping with homework and for family spreadsheets while his wife uses it mainly for online shopping. “One of the fun things is when we’re having a conversation about something we can just pick it up to check facts We did that when we were talking about artists the other day.”

Mr R says he uses other hitech gadgets less as a result of having the iPad but he still uses mainly low-tech ways to communicate with friends, preferring to pick up the phone and have a chat. He is not a heavy Facebook user though he does use Twitter on the iPad, but generally finds his iPhone more convenient for sending Tweets when he is out and about.

One hindrance to all members of the family using the iPad equally is that it is not geared towards multi-users, says Mr R. “The iPad is optimised for an individual user, you need a password to update it and that makes it a really personal bit of kit. Even for a free App you need a credit card.”

See also: 'iPad highlights changing internet', 'This year's must-have'

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