Skip to main content

Supporting & Securing The 1:1 Household; A Guide For Parents

This evening, amidst the onslaught of holiday shopping commercials, a favorite retailer showed a proud, but sleepy, father urging his two excited daughters to get ready for bed. The girls snuggled together in a fuzzy blanket, along with their iPad, in anticipation of Christmas morning. This scene 's not Cindy Lou Who ("who was no more than two") with her oversized candy cane, but it's pretty close. What Target needs to realize is that conscientious parents don't allow their children to sleep with their mobile electronics, not even to capture Santa in the act of conditional generosity. Much like the Grinch, this commercial dad should have gently taken the iPad away for safe keeping, and overnight charging.

With more schools providing tablets or laptop computers to students, and more families purchasing cell phones, many parents are left wondering how to best support their children's learning, while at the same time, protecting them from the hidden perils of inappropriate web users. Some ill-advised tweeting and decision-making by my son and some of his friends reminded me that all parents need to provide protections and guidance to promote responsible use of the Internet, and related technologies. Parents need to understand that there will always be risks, but planning, communication, and proactive steps can help minimize these risks. These days, "it takes a network to raise a child."

Here are several strategies for parents that are looking to support and secure their 1:1 households.
  1. Acquire at least a basic understanding of the hardware and it's features and capabilities. Set expectations for capturing and sharing images, recordings, and personal information. Our schools are 1:1 with iPads. What are the creative capacities of this device? How can it be used to support learning activities at home? The iPad can be used for reading, for composing music, for messaging, for navigation, for collaborating, for networking, note taking, for gaming, and hundreds of other potential uses.
  2. Actively participate in your child's technology use. Recreational use is not necessarily the worst thing in the world. Realize that many games involve challenges and problem-solving that support meaningful learning. Social media can provide a wealth of resources and communication in support of education. Our schools use Schoology for our classroom learning management system. One of the helpful features of this LMS is the ability for parents to view instructional activities, engage in classroom discussions, and monitor their child's progress in the class. Regularly discuss Internet use, and become co-learners in the ways of social media, web-based research, and network communication.
  3. Parents should create opportunities to discuss expectations and cooperatively establish guidelines for Internet and technology use. Work under the assumption that all Internet activity can be discovered and monitored. Discuss the concept of digital footprints, and their permanence. A periodic Google search of family members names will reveal what is being shared or posted on the Internet. Google alerts can be set up to notify parents of something new popping to the web. All of our family members names are set up with a Google alert. Parents should discuss the potential consequences of an unflattering or damaging digital footprint. Support opportunities for children to create a positive digital footprint that will enhance their learning through the web supported networks.
  4. Keep computers and devices in centrally located, high traffic, and highly visible areas of the home. Limit or restrict opportunities for private browsing or chatting. Establish a central location for overnight charging and storage of mobile devices. Establish boundaries and limitations for technology use. For example, use of mobile electronics is not permitted during our family dinner time. Don't laugh; portable electronics are not allowed in the bathroom. And since we have teen drivers, cell phones are always put into airplane mode while driving.
  5. Obtain the username and passwords for all of the children's social media, email, and device accounts. If the device has a screen lock, secure the code for this too. Create a backup copy, and keep this information in two separate and safe locations. Location services, such as "find my iPhone" should be activated and enabled. An app such as this can help locate, disable, and recover a lost or stolen iPad or iPhone. (more about Find My iPad)
  6. Most, if not all, schools provide some degree of Internet content filtering (see CIPA). However, in many cases, including ours, that level of protection does not extend beyond the reach of the school's computer and wireless networks. Additionally, more schools are permitting the classroom use of cell phones to support communication and learning. However, schools do not typically filter or monitor personal 3G/4G cellular networks. Many cell and Internet providers offer content filtering to help protect family members from inappropriate, obscene, or dangerous material found on the web. Sprint, our cell provider, provides content filtering to our mobile devices supported on their network. Parental controls can also be established through either the Internet provider or an anti-virus agent. For example, Comcast, in partnership with Norton, can be set up to filter inappropriate content, monitor Internet activity, monitor chat sessions, and provide age-based Internet access to younger family members. Wireless routers and in-line content filters can be set up to protect homes from inappropriate use, identity theft, or restrict unwanted access. iBoss is one of many recommended products that offer home network security solutions.
  7. Finally, when children aren't meeting expectations with respects to responsible use, the devices themselves can have restrictions enabled on them. As I mentioned, our schools are 1:1 with iPads. Parents have the capability of setting restrictions on the iPad. Restrictions can be adjusted for the camera, age appropriate media, instant messaging, changing settings, Internet access, and numerous other features. One of the benefits of establishing web browsing restrictions is the Internet history cannot be deleted by the user. Temporary restrictions can also be created on the iPad or iPhone through Guided Access. This feature is helpful during times when a focus is needed to complete school related tasks, or when social interactions need to be limited.

While I am personally not a fan of restrictions and filtering, there are times when it becomes necessary to restrict access to the irresponsible user. Trust and teachable moments reign in our household, but we also have implemented many of these safeguards to give us parenting advantages while at the same time understanding and supporting connected learning with mobile, web-based, technologies.
  • What technology challenges are you facing in your household? 
  • Are there other parenting strategies you could add to this list? 
  • How can schools better support technology use in the home? 

 - Your comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome. - 

Additional Resources

photo credit: Lupuca via photopin cc


Josey H. said…
This is all good stuff. My wife and I don't have any kids yet, but the ratio of devices to people is already 8:2! This doesn't even include devices from work. Can't remember last time I was only 1:1
Hello Josey. Thank you for taking time to read and comment. I'm with you, we are a family of six, and each one of us has an iPhone, and iPad, a laptop, - not to mention the gaming systems. We are in the market for a better wireless router to keep everyone connected and happy. Thanks again & happy holidays.

Popular posts from this blog

Tech Time Saver #3 - URL Shorteners

Richard Byrne reminded me earlier this week that URL ( uniform resource locator ) shorteners are very simple ways to make web navigation more effective and time efficient for you and your students. Here is a comparison of three popular URL shorteners;  Google URL Shortener ,  Bitly URL Shortener , and . Google URL Shortener - is my personal favorite. Simply copy the original, lengthy URL and paste it into the space provided at . Google then creates the short URL that can be copied and pasted as a link into blogs, tweets, or presentations. Google URL Shortener becomes even better when the Chrome browser is partnered with the Google URL Shortener Extension . One click condenses the URL from dozens, to possibly hundreds, of characters down to a randomized assortment of five letters and numbers. In addition, this click provides an option of creating a QR code from the URL. Usage statistics for the shortened URL can be tracked through Google Analytics.

Self-Directed vs. Self-Determined Learning; What's the Difference?

"We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves." - Stephen Downes In this age of abundance of information, shifting classroom pedagogy isn't nearly enough to make learning in school more relevant and authentic for the learner. Self-directed learning ( andragogy ), and self-determined learning ( heutagogy ) are the ideals necessary in making students " future ready " to live and learn in a web-connected world. While original research applied these concepts to mature learners, it has become apparent that even young children have an abundant capacity for recognizing and directing their learning. Anyone who has observed toddlers learning how to walk and talk understand the motivation and skill development that quickly develops during these processes. Considered by some to be on a learning continuum, self-directed learning, and self-determined

Digital Badges for Teacher Professional Development

Increasingly, digital badges are becoming a topic of discussion for educators. A digital badge is a digitized token of recognition for acquiring a skill, demonstrating a competency, or for sharing knowledge gained from the completion of an activity or project. As more of our learning comes by way of digital connections and contributions, badges are becoming a more prominent method of acknowledging skills and accomplishments. Many teachers readily acknowledge the importance of personalization of learning for students. Shouldn't professional development experiences offer the same promise? Ask a typical teacher to describe their PD experiences in a single word and you will likely get responses such as irrelevant or  boring . Besides personalization and relevance, digital badges provide opportunities for teachers to discuss the skills and knowledge that support educational best practice, and professional growth. These conversations support the form and function of profession