provide students with tablets for use in the classroom and for homework assignments. Millions more kids use their own mobile devices to stay in touch with friends via social media. This should come as little surprise, as this new technology offers innumerable benefits over traditional text books and can be a tremendous tool for learning.
Of course, online time can also pose a potential risk if not properly monitored. It's important to note that the Internet, for all its advantages, makes it easier than ever for students and children to access adult material. What can be done to prevent this from occurring while also enabling children to reap the benefits that being online provides?
No single online security solution will solve all of your problems. Whether you are a teacher, parent, or grandparent looking to safeguard children, taking a multi-tiered approach to online security can go a long way towards ensuring that your student, son, or daughter isn't accessing materials that are inappropriate.
Here are some safety measures you may want to consider.
The Technological Solution
One of the easiest and most effective ways to restrict a student's access to inappropriate material is through the device's built-in parental control settings. Most mobile devices include some type of restriction access within the settings. By activating these settings, you can limit access to Web content, applications, camera usage, texting, online app stores and more. You can also deactivate the phone's GPS should you have concerns about other parties tracking the location of your student's device.
The best thing about a phone or tablet's built-in parental control settings is that they're fairly bulletproof. Once activated, they can only be deactivated with the passcode you create. Keep this passcode to yourself, and you alone will have control over the content that is accessed on the device. Though third-party anti-virus and security applications are available, they won't be as effective as the device's internal controls.
Monitoring the Old-fashioned Way
A number of applications are available (such as My Mobile Watchdog) that will allow you to monitor someone else's device from your own. Should you decide to go this route, we encourage you to share this information with your student, son, or daughter. If your student knows that the phone activity is being monitored, he or she is less likely to partake in inappropriate behavior. After all, what would be the upside? Perhaps more importantly, this conversation will enable you to maintain a clear and open relationship. Though no student wants to be spied on, either by a teacher or parent, it is only made worse if it's without their knowledge.
You don't have to resort to such tactics, however. If you're in the classroom, you can simply be active and engaged with the students' mobile device usage. Monitor which websites they're visiting, which applications they're using, and whether or not they're attempting to access things that they shouldn't be. Simply walking around the room may be enough to discourage such behavior. As a parent, it's no less important to monitor your son or daughter's mobile device usage. If you have concerns about what he or she is doing, lay down ground rules.
Making Expectations Clear
Children are curious (and sometimes a bit mischievous). You likely won't be able to completely control what they access using mobile technology on their tablet or smartphone. However, they can also listen. It never hurts to have a conversation with your student about what you expect of him or her in terms of online behavior.
(*)Jennifer Thayer is a long time contributor for Education & Tech.
Education & Tech