Mobile devices have become an integral part of learning in today’s schools. iPads and student-owned laptops are regularly used in class, and low-cost Google’s Chromebooks are disrupting the educational learning market by making school devices affordable for everyone.
Schools are no longer blocking technology in classrooms, they’re embracing it. Teachers are encouraging the use of mobile devices as a learning tool that transcends the classroom, and all ages.
Kids in middle school and even elementary school already have phones, and many teachers expect kids to have internet access for distance learning and extended assignments. Schools track and secure their own assets, but what about student owned devices?
New phones, tablets and laptops cost $500 to $1,000 or more and are filled with sensitive information and personal data. That’s why today, more than ever, parents need to ensure their children’s gadgets stay safe and sound.
Nowadays, millions of phones and other mobile devices are lost each year, causing headaches for businesses and people alike. The reasons range from the usual person who misplaces his/her device, to threats such as theft, pickpockets, and both home and school break-ins.
If you combine all these external threats together with all the distractions that a kid faces during their school years, well, odds are their phone’s will go missing a few times.
Protecting children’s mobile gadgets from loss or theft.
Most schools install antivirus, remote desktop software, and other security software on provided devices.
Students and their parents should follow the example and consider securing their devices with anti-theft software on each phone, tablet, and laptop--alongwith other cybersecurity software.
In most cases, anti-theft software is free -like Prey!- and it can be especially valuable if you provide a phone to a younger kid, or to children with disabilities. Here's a user's story we recreated as an audio story!
However, it goes without saying that the utilization of tracking and security software on a minor’s devices is a sensitive matter that raises an ethical debate.
Tracking your children's devices ethically.
At Prey, we don’t promote the surreptitious tracking of any individual. We believe that transparency in tracking is key, and we favor the user’s right to have and protect their privacy.
However, we do understand that children are starting to receive mobile devices at a really young age, and thus, parents still need to assume responsibility for their devices’ safety.
Due to this fact, we recommend that parents utilize this as a learning opportunity for their children as they proceed through the different stages of their education.
The responsibility may begin on the parents’ side if their kids are too young to administer the tracking software. But, as years go by, parents should transfer the responsibility to their children, and teach them how to properly secure their devices, and identity, online.
Let’s review this evolution of responsibility, starting with children in Early Elementary, and finishing with their trip to College.
Early Elementary (preschool through 4th grade)
In the earliest age group, misplaced phones are the primary concern. Young kids haven’t learned the responsibility that goes along with caring for an expensive electronic device.
A simple but accurate solution to locate lost phones via GPS and cellular triangulation will show just where your child left their phone. Setting off an audible alarm will help to quickly find a device that is buried under toys or lost in a messy room.
Parents also appreciate the ability to leverage anti-theft apps for tracking. Check in on your child’s progress when the bus home is delayed, or keep track of your child when they head off on a field trip.
Middle School Age (5th to 8th grade)
As children grow older, a smartphone can enable more independence. Kids begin to take part in sports, clubs and activities without their parents coaching or on the sidelines.
Parents will rest easier with an anti-theft app on their child’s phone, providing an instant means of contact and also protecting against the continuing issues of phone loss and theft.
This period should also serve as the transition years, were parents slowly instruct and prepare kids on how to maintain a healthy online independence. Parents are still concerned for their kid’s safety, and the kids want to prove more than ever that they are capable.
Take advantage of this context and start working towards giving your kids the knowledge they need to be good online citizens! Teach children the importance of online safety. Google has a great course to help educate kids on this.
Help children develop the knowledge they need to consciously be responsible for an online account: including password hygiene; how to avoid phishing; and ground rules for what they can and can’t access or download.
High School and College/University
When High School arrives, teenagers are inevitably immersed in the online world at the same time that they also start gaining independence when it comes to the activities they take part of.
The security of mobile devices becomes more important as students are held accountable for the data they own, share, or potentially lose on their devices.
That’s why adolescents should be ready to accept responsibility and care for their gadgets personally by High School.
Parents often find that a cell phone is a bartering tool for allowing kids to gain their independence, like attending their first concert. Parents and kids should agree whether or not to use an anti-theft app as a family tracker.
Once everyone has bought in, then parents can set up a check-in plan with kids before they attend events, check in with the kids during the event, and know where to pick them up in a crowd after the event.
Ultimately, privacy, both online and offline, is a very important aspect of every person’s life. Thus, parents should work together with their children to provide a safe and transparent private environment for them.
Teach them about the free tools available to secure devices, and guide them to download and activate their own anti-theft solutions.
Special Needs and Disabilities
Parents of children with disabilities or special needs particularly value the ability to track and locate mobile devices. Whether caring for children with special needs, grown kids with disabilities, or even an elderly parent who needs added care, being able to use an app to locate a loved one is invaluable.
Custom applications designed for people with disabilities have become mainstream, and caregivers know their loved ones grow dependent upon these technologies, so losing a device can be a significant disruption of critical daily routines, and anti-theft apps can quickly rescue the day.
Protecting our devices and ensuring personal safety is much more than a matter of security. It’s a subject that’s directly connected with a person’s privacy, and how that privacy is being handled.
To ensure no lines are crossed, all parties involved should be aware of the situation, and communication is key to discuss concerns. Work together to reach a consensus on how to protect devices in a way that gives both parents and children peace of mind, and empowers children with more responsibility for protecting their own devices as they grow older.