Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Sept. 4, 2018

Keeping Tech Safe At School

Intern, Family Online Safety Institute

As the school year approaches, much preparation is required: compiling school supplies, digging out kids’ backpacks, and preparing schedules. However, it is also important to prepare your child for the school year with technology guidelines. As many kids nowadays bring some kind of technology to school, it is worth considering some ideas for how to best equip your child with knowledge to use these devices safely and intelligently.

  1. Pick a safe place for devices. Trusting your child with expensive equipment such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop can be scary, given that they can’t keep track of more basic things like homework or their lunch box. To prevent your child from misplacing it or leaving it exposed to theft, discuss and agree on a home base for these items while they are at school. Specific pockets in backpacks or lockers can make for good places that are both accessible and easy to remember.

  2. Put a password on devices. At school, your child will be surrounded by many of their peers at all times. Usually in a harmless manner, kids can be prone to picking up each others devices and using them without their friend’s permission. Further, with so many devices lying around, mix-ups are possible and kids can grab the wrong device. To prevent others from unwarranted usage or accidental switches, asking your child to put a password on their phone, if they don’t already have one, can be a good idea. This way, anyone other than your child trying to get into their phone will not only face a password block, but find out that the device is not for them and hopefully return it.

  3. Keep a charger in backpacks. If you send your child to school with a mobile phone, consider keeping a backup charger in their backpack. Cellphones can be a great resource for kids if there is an emergency while they are at school, but it is only helpful as long as it has battery. If they have a charger with them, even if they forgot to charge their phone before going to school, you know your child can always reach you if they need to.

  4. Location sharing. While far from a necessary aspect of safe school technology use, it is definitely something for some parents to consider. If you’re worried your child may forget to tell you his or her whereabouts during or after the school day, using location sharing apps can be helpful. There are a wide range of options to do so safely.

  5. Follow rules for school-assigned tech. Some schools may distribute laptops or computers to students. Knowing the rules associated with this technology is crucial for using it safely and preventing any trouble. Encourage your child to ask school staff about the rules. After, talk with them to make sure they understand the rules and so you can learn the guidelines to help keep your child on track.

  6. Leave some tech at home. While it may be tempting for your child to bring all of their gadgets to school, including fancy headphones, tablets, or smart speakers, they should most likely leave the majority of these devices at home. They can get stolen, lost, or damaged in the busy hallways or on the walk home in the rain home from the bus stop. So, talk to your child about which devices they are allowed to bring to school and which are best to leave home.