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Back to School BYOD advice

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 21 January 2020, 3:05 pm

When I was a kid the worst phrase in the English language was 'Back to school sale'. In late January it was everywhere you went, ruining trips into town. Bright posters signalling that Christmas was now a memory and long summer days were about to be replaced by long school days. The sense of dread was palpable. I don't even think the idea of getting my own computer, tablet or smartphone would have cheered me up. Still, it might have helped.

If you have a 'Back to Schooler' in your house, then you may be thinking about BYOD - Bring Your Own Device - for the new academic year. I'm thinking about it because CERT has issued guidelines for parents to help their kids protect themselves and their personal information online. It's good advice for all of us - find out how to receive security updates, make long and strong passwords, install anti-virus software. Also, warnings about downloading software from legitimate app stores and trusted websites and uninstalling software or apps that aren't needed anymore.

Not mentioned in the safety tips from CERT, but something that should be taken into account if you are a Microsoft user, is that support for Windows 7 ended on 14 January. "Technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC are no longer available for the product. Microsoft strongly recommends that you move to Windows 10 to avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available" states the blog post.

In addition to CERT, Netsafe has resources for helping children stay safe with smart devices. Content from both organisations contains a lot of advice about having online "stranger danger" conversations, not getting caught out by phishing emails, and what to do about online bullying. There is a reminder that you have be 13 years old to sign up for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube. It's also a good idea to discuss the concept of a 'digital footprint' because "Online content can be difficult to remove".

For all the joys of being a BYOD kid, there is a lot to be wary of.

And then there are the students who aren't able to fully participate in the digital world. According to Laurence Millar from the 2020 Trust (is the organisation contemplating a name change?) 21% of New Zealand households reported no Internet access in the last Census. Millar recently began a blog post with the question/statement: 'Why are we still talking about digital inclusion? - it's time for action'. Agree 100%.

You can check out CERT's Back to School BYOD guidelines here.


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David Lane 24 January 2020, 4:56 pm

Seems to me that BYOD is a horrible idea at schools... talking about digital inclusion - can you think of a better way to display and even amplify inequity than BYOD? Plus, I have yet to see a school that can handle a kid who (very smartly) brings a Linux computer into school under the BYOD regime. Wouldn't it be great for the future of NZ IT if they could?

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