Q: My 8 year old is being given a laptop by her public school. While I do understand the benefits, I have serious concerns about such a young child having minimally supervised online access at school and at after-school care. The school laptops do not even come with any tracking software or restrictions. At home, she has only supervised computer access. What is a reasonable solution?
– Lamenting over laptops, Los Angeles, CA
A: Dear Lamenting,
Many parents in similar situations share your concern. The first step, though, is to determine whether there is truly a problem to be solved. To do that, have a discussion with your child’s teacher or other members of the school administration to get a better understanding of the how the school hopes to use these laptops to enhance the curriculum, how they plan to teach safe and healthy internet use, and what measures they have in place to ensure student safety.
As you may be aware (especially living in LA!), many school systems roll out technology before fully considering either the positives or the potential negatives that can come with it. When discussing the laptop program with educators or school administrators, it may be helpful to ask the following:
- What are the goals of the program, and how will using laptops help students achieve these goals?
- Will the laptops be used at school, at home, or both?
- What is the expected role of parents in encouraging positive, productive use of this tool?
- Are there measures in place to ensure that students don’t access potentially harmful content?
When having these conversations, you may want to ask about how you and other parents can get involved and stay current with the technology your children are using so you can best support their learning process. This will bring parental concerns to the awareness of the school’s administration and offer the suggestion that parents and educators work together to ensure that students are using the laptops safely and in ways that benefit their learning.
Please let us know how this process goes for you (email or better, post on our Facebook page), so that we can share your story with other parents and crowdsource solutions. Activating community discussions around these types of issues can help parents and educators identify their concerns and focus what they want for students in terms of gaining technological tools and the skills to use them. This way, we can move from fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) to becoming confident in our children’s ability to use these powerful tools safely and effectively.
Enjoy your media and use them wisely,