Do schools think parents are more tech-savvy than they really are?
So many schools are now bringing iPads to the classroom - with parents required to provide their children with the school-mandated iPads in many cases. The introduction of these iPads is occurring in early primary years in some schools. This puts powerful technology - small computers - into the hands of very young children.
When a school requires that a child, especially a primary school aged child, have their own iPad, who then is responsible for educating the parents about how they can help ensure their child's safe use of the device?
My experience from dealing with many parents of children with school-mandated iPads is that too many schools are neglecting their duty of care in this area. They are not providing essential advice to parents BEFORE the children are given their iPads.
While many schools will offer 'CyberSafety' seminars for parents - telling parents about the dangers out there in the online world - very few schools include specific instruction as part of these seminars about how to 'lock down' the child's iPad so that they only use age-appropriate features, apps and content.
A case in point: At a local primary school, a parent I know requested parent education be provided by the school about Parental Controls on the iPad, and that this occur before the kids 'took possession' of the devices they would be using this school year. She knew that many other parents, like her, did not really understand these devices and certainly didn't know anything about these features.
This parent was told by the school that CyberSafety information sessions would be conducted at the school during the year and that this would address her concerns.
Offers of free information sessions from iTandCoffee were rejected on the basis that a renowned international presenter, an expert in CyberSafety, would be coming to the school during the year.
A local expert offering a free session BEFORE the devices were given to children did not seem worthy of consideration.
Offers of access to free iTandCoffee online videos that parents could watch at home were also rejected by the school.
Sadly, the promised school CyberSafety sessions for parents were then not run until October - 10 months after the children started using the devices for school. Even worse, these sessions DID NOT cover the topic of how to set up parental controls on the iPad. They only covered the more general topic of online safety.
This particular school is not alone. Only today I visited a parent whose boys go to a private school where personal iPads are required in the primary years. After I showed her how her boys' devices could have been locked down (which would have prevented the problems she was now dealing with), she angrily questioned why the school had not provided her with information about the features that I showed her. Once again, excess spending and inappropriate content downloads had resulted from a lack of controls on a child's iPad.
Why is it that schools are so reluctant to cover this area with parents?
Is it that those who are responsible for 'rolling out' the iPads think that iPads should be 'easy to understand' and that parents should be able to work out things for themselves?
Or is it that schools just don't think they are responsible for what the children do on the iPads when they are not at school - that their responsibility is limited to adequately 'locking down' the iPads while on the school intranet.
I know from experience in dealing with too many parents whose children have spent over $1000 in a day, or have been targetted by a predator on KIK messenger, or that are 'Facetiming' friends from their bedroom in the wee hours of the morning, that schools can not assume that parents actually do know ANYTHING about these devices. Some might, but a large number don't.
Far too often, young children are ruling the technology roost at home due to the parents lack of understanding of the devices that the children are using. And schools are contributing to this problem by bringing the devices to a younger and younger student population.
Come on schools - it's not that hard! A one-hour information session can 'enlighten' parents to an area of the iPad's settings that too many people do not even know exists! But it needs to be done before the kids get their hands on their new iPads, not after! Schools need to help shut the gate before the horse bolts!
(For more information about free in-school sessions for parents at schools in the Boroondara area and surrounds, on the topic of 'Parental Controls on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, contact iTandCoffee on 1300 885 420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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