Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – Choosing and managing devices for high school


It’s not just pencils and exercise books in the school bag this year – a growing number of schools are continuing to introduce  ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) in the classroom, with many even making this compulsory.

From 2009 to 2013, the Federal Government supplied a laptop to Year 9 students in Australian public high schools, but the end of that program has left the responsibility with parents to provide a device for senior students.

However, many schools are encouraging the use of personal devices from even the first year of high school (and earlier). Recent research by Softlink^ revealed that 30 per cent of all Australian schools encourage students to bring their own devices, while 14 per cent of Australian schools encourage the use of personal mobile devices in and outside the classroom.

Does my teenager need a device at school?

This will largely depend on your school’s policy and teaching practices. Speak with your child’s teacher or year adviser if you have any doubts. Where a school has not made it compulsory, you might find it is also unnecessary. Many teenagers have smart phones that they use at school to look up information when needed, and schools also have internet-connected computers.

What kind of device should I buy?

CHOICE back-to-School Tech-Buying Guide

The CHOICE Back-to-School tech-buying guide is a good place to start your research

The main factors parents will take into account when deciding on a device will be cost and functionality (try to ignore the “but everyone else has X” argument!)

Start by reading the helpful CHOICE Back-to-school tech-buying guide. It explains the difference between ultraportables, Netbooks, Chromebooks, MacBooks, hybrids and tablets.

The Federal Government’s Schoolkids Bonus may help with the cost. More information about this and other good buying and money-saving tips are available in the CHOICE article.

How to manage BYOD with your teenager

With more than 80 per cent of schools in Australia surveyed by Softlink outlining that they do not have a formal BYOD strategy in place, there is an increased responsibility placed on parents to ensure that children understand how their devices should be used and that they are properly looked after.

2014 McAfee Back to School Infographic

2014 McAfee Back to School Infographic:
What Parents Need to Know About BYOD in the Classroom

McAfee’s Cybermum Alex Merton-McCann, mother to four schoolboys, says it is not just the school’s responsibility to manage safe internet usage and BYOD.

“As children become more immersed in the online world, and start using a larger variety of internet-enabled devices both at home and in the classroom, it is important that parents understand what the devices should be used for and how they should be looked after,” says Alex.

Alex has provided the following tips for parents to manage their child’s BYOD activity at school:

  • Device ownership: Understand who owns the device – you or your teenager? If your child owns it, agree on their responsibilities for taking care of it throughout the year
  • Data plans: Don’t rush to buy your child a data plan for their device. The school will probably provide Wi-Fi, which should be filtered, and they can also tap into the Wi-Fi at home. This saves you time and means you have more control over where and when they can access the internet
  • Charging: Most schools will insist that devices need to come to school fully charged. Introduce a charging zone at home
  • Consider a code of conduct with your child: Does your child’s school insist on a code of conduct for your child? If so, make sure you read, understand and implement it
  • Make your child aware of what is appropriate: Your child will have access to devices away from your supervision, so if you have rules for home use and accessing content, reiterate that the same rules apply in school
  • Repairs: Understand how these will be managed and if there is a warranty with the device
  • Insurance: Ensure you understand the associated insurance policy and what your are liable to pay if you child loses or breaks the device
  • Security: Install security software such as McAfee LiveSafe which gives protection across all your devices, and additional parental controls.

^Softlink 2013 Australian School Library Survey, October 2013

Have you bought your child a device for high school? Was it a difficult decision?
How have you managed it? Do you support BYOD in high school?
Please share your thoughts in our comments below.




  1. Also consider whether the device is compatible with the technology already available at the school, and whether the device has the capability to run the apps needed.
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  2. Tanya Ryan says:

    My son received a new laptop provided by his school last year but had to return it at the end of the year so that they could be shared amongst students for 2014.
    We decided to purchase a laptop for him because we didn’t want him to have an excuse for not being able to do his work. We do have a few old laptops lying around the house that we agreed were too big and heavy for him to take to and from school each day. As his birthday falls at the end of the year, we decided to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ and give it to him as a birthday present. We purchased a small notebook PC (ASUS) and an external hard drive so that he could download his work onto this.
    As we purchased it before the end of the school year we didn’t think to check network compatibility. Unfortunately the laptop we purchased wasn’t compatible! I did a little research and was able to find a WiFi dual band USB adaptor that made this possible.
    Officeworks informed me that the only laptops compatible with the school network cost $1600+. I’m sure a lot of parents would not be willing to pay this much for a laptop.
    I guess by purchasing this for him, we agree with BYOD but I feel it’s a choice of jumping on board or being left behind. My brother and his family live in the US, his children attend a public school and must have a 3G or 4G smartphone for school including their youngest child who is in the equivalent of year 5 in Australia. I can only assume that this will be happening here in a few years time.

  3. Last year we had to buy an Ipad for our daughter going into Year 7 and our eldest received the last of the government computers in Year 10. It certainly changed our home. Our children now spend a LOT of time connected to their devices and they connect to the wifi in their bedrooms so just about every rule I had went out the window. I think the jury is still out on the benefits/negatives of all this technology/social networking, but it’s ridiculous to think you can’t be a part of it, the times are definitely changing.
    Janine recently posted..Back to “Normal”My Profile

    • Janine, I just came across your comment (I know, it’s an old one!) and it really got me thinking about the different suggestions parents get. On the one hand, there is plenty of info circulating abut technology and ‘entertainment’ time and limiting time on devices so that kids have to rely much more on their own imaginations. At the same time, kids need technology for school and there really is no clear divide between the two.

      I always struggle with this at work – some parents expect us to have computers for kids, and while we do allow kids to bring theirs in, we don’t supply them. Those parents don’t realise that if our work was all computer based, the child would spend their time in tutoring doing research that’s easy to do at school, or trying to draft entire assignments. The kids using laptops lose focus. Obviously they are necessary for assignments and file storage and research, but given your comment, do you think there’s now an over-reliance on computers at school?

      • I think we are in the midst of a giant experiment and we have no idea how it will turn out. I believe it is really important (even in high school) to give kids lots of experiences outside of the technology based ones. It is interesting that you find the kids using laptops lose focus. I do have concerns that we have embraced the technology with a fervour that may prove detrimental in some areas of learning and development. Although I acknowledge that technology has a place in modern education I hope someone is assessing/recording/studying the impacts it has over the longterm.
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  4. I think the government supplied laptops had technology that made the machine unusable if they were to get stolen, is that right?
    I’m concerned that ‘some’ people will know that all these high school students are walking around with very good computers that could be resold very easily.
    The government should figure out how to secure these machines and then advertise that fact to protect our children.

  5. I don’t like the experimental stages being experienced by our kids these days. I guess it’s unavoidable but I wish the govt would step up and set a standard. Each school choosing different requirements and allowing different levels of I.T devices sets a huge cavern of different learning experience for each child and yet entry to University is the same exam. Setting a future date when all schools should make the switch to an agreed system could see this solved. Whether it’s supplied or BYOD. Currently our school decided they would start the year below my son who is in the first year of the 3 senior years when every other school is allowing devices. A distinct disadvantage and it’s a private school too! In the USA kids have their text books on their device, no more heavy school bags!
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