As Aussie kids return to their classrooms over the next week or so, parents around the country are taking a deep sign of well… relief. As much as we love the school holidays, they are very, very long!
Don’t put your feet up just yet. Have you seen what is on their stationery list? Yes, that’s right. It is a laptop!
A growing number of Aussie schools have started introducing a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policy. What does that mean? In short, students are able to bring their own devices to school. The school may specify the type of device with some providing a specific device model number for parents to purchase. Others will allow the students to choose their preferred device possibly even between a tablet or a laptop.
So apart from the very big sting to the hip pocket, what does this mean for parents?
According to research by Softlink, more than 80% of schools who have introduced this policy, don’t have a formal BYOD strategy in place. So, the onus is on the parents to ensure their kids understand how to both use and look after their devices properly.
It goes without saying that I am a big believer in having technology in the classroom. However, it is a double edged sword. Along with many educational and social benefits, there are some pitfalls and risks that we as parents need to help our children navigate.
If your child’s school has introduced a BYOD policy and you are feeling overwhelmed, here are my top tips on how to make it as painless as possible:
Make sure your ‘student’ understands that he or she owns the device and is 100% responsible for it. Ensure they clearly understand how to look after the device. Take some time to explain the device’s features – although I am sure they will have this sorted themselves in a matter of minutes.
Some schools offer it as a service but either way GET IT ASAP. You’ll kick yourself if the device goes missing. Make sure you understand the excess and ‘escape clauses’.
Install security software such as McAfee’s LiveSafe which gives protection across all your devices and additional parental controls.
4. Code of Conduct
Some schools ask that the students sign one of these. If so, make sure you read it, understand it and implement it at home. If, however your school doesn’t, draw one up yourself. Here is one from The Modern Parent that will definitely inspire you.
5. Data Plans
Do not rush to buy your child a data plan for their device. The school will probably provide Wi-Fi, which is hopefully filtered. They can also tap into the Wi-Fi at home. This gives you a LOT more control.
Make sure you understand how these will be managed. Some schools offer an IT support service others won’t. If something goes wrong, you will probably be under great pressure to have it fixed ASAP so make sure you have a plan. Perhaps investigate local repairers – just in case.
Try and get your child in the habit of charging their device overnight. Some schools won’t allow charging at school. I strongly recommend a charging zone for all devices which is located a LONG way from bedrooms – ideally in the kitchen area. I would also nominate a time that all devices need to be on charge from to ensure your kids have sufficient downtime.
Most importantly, remember that even though you child now has their own device, you are still the boss. You are calling the shots. Take charge of the situation. Introduce some rules and boundaries and proactively manage the device.
If you have only really dabbled in the internet and not yet taken the plunge into social media land, well – you know what you need to do! You owe it to your kids to understand how it all works.
Until next time!