Smartphones in the Classroom: Yay or No Way?

Nov 1, 2012 10:05am


The following is a guest blog from Victoria Repice, NQ Mobile Product Expert and Mom of 2

As a mom who works in the mobile security world, I hear a lot about the BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) trend in classrooms. After talking to many parents and teachers, the majority feel that in-class mobile learning is the wave of the future but are concerned about smartphone safety.

While smartphones open a world of opportunity for kids, they also come with serious risks, including cyberbullying, online predators, privacy invasion, and malware. Teachers and parents need to commit to protecting their kids’ smartphones and teaching them how to use them safely. These 5 tips will help parents, teachers and kids work together to use the classroom as a place to learn how to take advantage of mobile opportunities while preventing the risks. 

5 Tips for Including Smartphones in the Classroom

As with every technology, there are pros and cons to allowing smartphones in class. Here’s how to keep kids safe on their phones:

  1. Ask your school to set aside specific times during school days for students to use mobile technology to find answers. Be sure teacher, students and parents know in advance which class meetings will be smartphone sessions. If parents are using parental controls like NQ Family Guardian, they can adjust these controls to allow kids to use their smartphones at these time but limit usage the rest of the school day.
  2. If kids are at the age where they’re all about social networking, consider creating a program that teaches them to use these sites safely. For example, create an Edmodo page for your class, and encourage students to use it for informative, positive communications. Edmodo allows kids to turn in their homework and ask questions. Best of all, it has a parent sign-in as well, so you can monitor and be aware of the class activities. Monitor the page closely and teach them how to use privacy settings and avoid posting personal data.
  3. Find an educational app that supports classroom subjects. Set aside class time for students to work with the app and talk about what they’ve learned. Be sure all parents are involved in downloading or, at least, approve the download.
  4. Encourage students to snap a photo of classroom whiteboards so they’ll have a copy to study along with their own notes. Students can also post it on the class’s Facebook page or send to the class email list.
  5. Organize a discussion for parents about smartphone safety and security after school or at a PTA meeting. Before using a smartphone, every child should understand the risks and how to prevent them. NQ Mobile and the National Cyber Security Alliance created a Parent’s Toolkit designed to guide the discussion between parents, teachers, and educators. It includes a Mobile Family Contract that parents and kids can sign and print.

As a mom, I understand that smartphones can be both productive and unpredictable. However, my work in the mobile security industry has taught me that the opportunities for kids outweigh the risks, as long as kids know how to protect themselves and their phones and parents monitor their usage. Teachers and parents are in a perfect position to teach kids about security, using posters, mottos, messages and the materials offered by NQ Mobile’s family site and StaySafeOnline.org. So go ahead and take advantage of smartphones to enhance your child’s education. Just be sure to keep them safe!

Please share your ideas about smartphones in the classroom.  Are you a teacher using this technology yet? A parent with concerns about smartphones?  We’d love to hear your comments on Facebook.