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?
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.
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.