Six big questions you need to ask your child’s school about their device safety and security

For any parent of a school-age child, you’ll know that the days of blackboards and notebooks is drawing to a close. These days, it’s all about the screens.

Whether it’s doing their homework or learning in class, teachers are using tablets, notebooks, and other devices more than ever. But with access to the internet banned in many households - how can you know your school is keeping your children’s safety in mind? It’s all about educating yourself and asking the right questions - here are five good places to start when discussing digital safety with your children’s teachers.

How much time will be spent online, and how is it moderated?
Kids and internet can be a scary combination. Whilst you can try and control what they watch on TV and read at home, will this kind of regulation be applied at school? Find out what they are using the devices for, and if there is any time on the internet that the teachers won’t be moderating. Also, enquire into what kind of firewalls or search alerts are set up online for further protection.

How much of the curriculum is spent on screens?
Most parents these days have had to introduce some form of ‘screen time’ limits in their households. Why? Because fresh air, imagination, and socialising with other children is so important. And this applies for school time, too: how many subjects use the devices? What kind of physical exercise is worked into their daily routine? What ‘traditional’ educational skills (eg. writing, drawing, mental arithmetic) are still being employed?

What devices will we need to provide?
Many schools employ a ‘BYOD’ or Bring Your Own Device system, meaning that it’s your responsibility to provide the tablet, laptop, or other device required for class. These devices might need to be a certain brand or model to comply with the school’s programs. It’s also worth checking in for the requirements in older grades.

What security measures are taken with the devices?
Kid’s schoolbags are a wormhole to the universe of lost things: lunch boxes, uniforms, shoes…everything except for old bananas, which never seem to leave. So, before sending your children off to school with an expensive device, make sure there are policies in place to ensure it won’t be getting lost, damaged, or stolen.

Are there any chat-rooms or online social spaces to be aware of?
Many schools will have an intranet that features a class or year-level based chat system. Ask to know how it works, and how it is being moderated by a teacher or supervisor. These chat-rooms can be a breeding ground for online bullying, inappropriate chats, or if they are hosted online, even adult predators.

What online safety education will the kids be receiving?
This is by far the most important question of all. Before entrusting your child with a device that will open them up to the online world, they need to know the potential dangers. They must learn how to interact online, what kind of personal information they can’t give away, and what type of websites to avoid.

Always make sure you keep the conversation with your kids open about how and where they are using their devices. Make sure that they always feel comfortable to ask questions about their devices and keep no secrets! Safety must come first when it comes to screen time.

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