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Addressing the most common parent concerns about BYOD in schools

BYOD — Bring Your Own Device — has taken the education system by storm. The idea behind it is simple: students are allowed and encouraged to use their own phones, tablets, e-readers, or notebooks in the classroom. There’s been a lot of talk about BYOD in schools, on whether or not it is beneficial for the learning process of students, with serious arguments in both camps.

I for one believe BYOD at school is a clear case of the if you can’t fight it, embrace it mantra. Technology is here to stay, and instead of banning it, schools should use it in their favor. By allowing kids to bring and use their mobile devices in the classroom, schools can make learning more fun and engaging.

Of course there should be clear rules for using devices on school grounds and in the classroom, and of course, clear consequences of breaking these rules. A BYOD Acceptable Use Policy is meant to ensure safety for users and keep the use of mobile devices “in the name of learning”.

So, BYOD means that kids are happy to use their gadgets to school, educators are creating new classes and teaching styles around them, and everybody is happy with the results.

Don’t you feel like something is missing in this picture?

The sometimes overlooked link in a successful BYOD system: parents

Who provides the notebooks, tablets, e-readers and any other gizmo accepted by the school? The hard-working parents, of course.

Parents play an important role in the success of a BYOD policy. Their involvement in all aspects of their kids’ education is priceless.

Parents’ involvement into the new-age-tech schooling should go beyond signing an agreement at the beginning of the year, and paying for devices and internet services. (I’m strictly referring to those parents that can afford to do that). You can’t just buy a notebook, put in in your kid’s hands, send him/her away to school and wait for the straight As report card.

Luckily, there are plenty of parents that are more than just providers of goods. They are caretakers who are equally responsible for their kids’ education.
So it’s only natural that they have questions and concerns about the necessity and the impact of a BYOD policy.

Parent concerns about BYOD in schools

All parents want the best for their kids in terms of education. That’s why they try to keep an open mind about new teaching methods. But when it comes to BYOD programs they also have a heavy heart. Let’s address a few matters that raise concern among parents when they are first introduced to the notion on BYOD:

  • Is it healthy for my kid?

    If we consider the amount of time children spend nowadays on electronic devices, this is a legit question. Well, parents should rest at ease; the classroom is still a place for personal interaction. Only part of the class implies using a device, and not every class requires it. Kids still use pen and paper and talk to each other. The BYOD program is supposed to enhance and support traditional learning, not replace it.

  • Won’t students be distracted by all the games and apps?

    They won't if the games and apps are used for learning. There are plenty of educational apps and games used in the classroom and these are meant for engaging students and make learning fun. The teacher supervises the entire activity to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

  • Do I have to buy the latest model of smartphone? These things can get pretty expensive!

    Although kids will probably try to convince their parents that the latest model of iPhone will increase their IQ and their love for school, parents shouldn’t fall for that. Most schools only require a wireless connection for the internet and headphones or earbuds for audio or video content. To be sure, teachers can provide exact information regarding the technical requirements students should need.

  • What if I can’t afford a device? How will my child learn and participate in class?

    Many lessons are collaborative, allowing students to work together, sharing information accessed through personal devices. When the work is individual, students may use computers and other devices located in the classrooms and/or in the Media Center, or by signing out laptops from the laptop carts. Schools that adhere to a BYOD policy are committed to reducing technology inequity, so every child can learn equally.

  • Online connection sometimes leads to less desired situations like bullying, data theft or cheating. What about that?

    Avoiding all sorts of negative outcomes requires a common effort of schools, teachers, students, and parents alike. Responsible schools take measures to ensure cyber security, and all school staff should be trained regarding online safety. Students of all ages should be taught about digital citizenship, how to behave in the online environment and how to protect themselves and others. And this should happen not only during the school day, but under the supervision of parents as well.

All the above concerns are normal and expected. Parents would do anything for their kids to learn better, get smarter, and be successful later in life. School should take the time to address any issues parents have regarding the implementation of a new BYOD program.

While things may not always be perfect, a BYOD program may have significant results. Success stories like the one of Forsyth County Schools prove to everyone that BYOD has more advantages than disadvantages for students’ learning.

NEO Brochure: How to overcome the challenges related to using BYOD in schools