When our kids return to school, we as parents go through the process of making sure they have the right sports kit, pens, pencils, study books and ensure they are going to conform to any applicable dress code.

We do this to ensure our kids can remain at school, because no parent wants to get that call – the one asking them to pick their child up due to an infringement of the schools policies.

Many schools are implementing a ‘bring your own device’ policy, meaning that students learn from their own computers and not those provided by the school.

With a generation of kids growing up surrounded by gadgets, it does seem sensible for the schools to leverage the investment parents have already made in technology at home.


Acceptable Usage Policies

Whatever device your kids are using though, it does mean that you have probably signed up to the school’s acceptable usage policy. If you want to know what one looks like, do a quick Google search and it will return a great example policy. It’s important that you understand the core principals of the policy you signed up for, so let’s look at what is in the example.

The policy starts out with a summary about the benefits and risks of using their device at school, pointing out that your child might encounter inappropriate content or receive offensive communications and also have the ability to send this type of content, which is course unacceptable.

Then there is a long list of items that could be deemed common sense, no illegal stuff, reserving the right to monitor, violation of law etc. While this is all small print and as a parent we most likely sign it without reading it, you should at least understand that you are agreeing that the actions of your child are your responsibility. Do you as a parent know what your child is doing on their laptop, tablet or phone?

I think in the majority of cases the answer to this question is no, the device becomes very personal to the child and parents may feel its intrusive to ask. I have a rule in my house that I can pick up and look at any device when I want to, and while I do not do this frequently, the fact that this agreement was struck when giving my son the device means he knows that I can. And of course he also knows I know what to look for!

Learn more about what your child does online

If you’re going to take responsibility for your child’s online activity, you should first find out what they are doing online. But what do you look for and what should you be asking?

I think the first task is having open and honest conversations about what we do on the Internet. We teach our kids to behave around others physically, so we need to teach the same etiquette for online activities.

Some key things to look at if you feel the need to see what your kids are doing online.

  • Take a look at their browser history. Be sure to check all browsers on the machine as there may be more than one. If there is no history, then its time to ask some questions as it means they are deleting it to hide something.
  • See who they are sending email to. While this may sound intrusive, note that I am only saying look at the recipient, not at the content.
  • Look to see what’s been installed on the machine recently. An easy way to do this is to enter the control panel, add/remove programs, and look at the install dates listed. If there are apps you don’t recognize then ask them what they are.

Remember you’re the one ultimately responsible and likely to be called in to the school office if your kids break the rules so be proactive, see what’s happening. and guide your kids in the right direction should they be stepping off the path.