Should Your Child BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to School?

Oct 14, 2016

“Bring Your Own Device” has become not only a very common practice in a majority of businesses and other organizations, it has become a very polarizing topic in schools. There are so many factors as to why schools would want to control their mobile device policies, while at the same time some want to ensure student flexibility with the devices they use and are very familiar with using on a daily basis.

One of the most famous line from Spider Man movies was when Uncle Ben told his nephew Peter Parker, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” This is especially true for students of age to own mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc.). As a technical professional, I can understand the side of controlling device access by means of mobile device management to regulate and monitor mobile device usage (most likely by the I.T. Department of the school), which isn’t usually done by user provided devices, mainly company or school provided devices. As a parent of a child soon to be entering the tech age of her own, I can also understand the need for flexibility of users to be able to bring their own devices. On this side of the coin, these kids are already familiar with their devices and the learning curve isn’t as steep. I currently live the BYOD policy professionally, and I ultimately had to sign several agreements for mobile usage and acceptance policies. Schools can do the same. I have seen all the pros and cons with implementing this policy in schools, and here are some of the benefits of encouraging BYOD:

  1. Students are already familiar with their own devices and will not have to adjust to learning a new device.
  2. It is one less support call for the I.T. Department since users are ultimately responsible for their own devices.
  3. In addition to being familiar with their own devices, it increases the capacity for learning and self-administrating.
  4. One side that has not been discussed is the financial aspect from the school board, and budgets can be focused elsewhere in more critical areas.

Now there are other factors to consider as well with BYOD, which I believe can and should be allowed in schools. Some technical and some personal factors should be considered:

  1. IT Departments need to evaluate their wireless networks to accommodate additional devices.
  2. Parents should remind their kids that it is wrong to treat others differently, and to not judge others based on their devices.
  3. There can be some compromises between parents and the school, as in making BYOD a choice and allow the school board to provide devices to those that aren’t able to do so on their own.
  4. For BYOD, students should be required to sign acceptable use policies, and other agreements with consequences for violating school rules/policies.

Since we are in the technology age, it is only right for students to be able to leverage their own devices, if possible, to further enhance their education. It is also important for parents to educate their kids on the responsibility should schools choose BYOD moving forward. The BYOD environment also increases the need for parental control software, like Net Nanny, to be installed on all mobile devices (iPhones, Android, iPads, tablets). Students have received disciplinary action due to accessing, searching or posting on school grounds inappropriate websites or content. It is essential that any parental control software that you install has social media monitoring, dynamic content filter that you can customize based on age of your child, and time management options to limit screen time. If you have any questions about BYOD policies, or anything else related to the above conversations, you can reach me on all major social media platforms: @ChrisMcManamy.