5 rules for keeping cell phones safe at school

From student laptops to personal cell phones.

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Even if your child isn’t growing cell phone cases from mushrooms this year in middle school, chances are they won’t be without their phones at school. So, it’s important to give your kids some technology guidelines to protect their devices, as well as their information:

  1. Pick a safe place for devices. To prevent your child from misplacing or leaving them exposed to theft, discuss and agree on a home base for these items while they are at school. Specific pockets in backpacks or lockers can make for good places that are both accessible and easy to remember.
  2.  Put a password on devices. At school, your child will be surrounded by many of their peers at all times. Usually in a harmless manner, kids can be prone to picking up another’s device and using it without their friend’s permission. Further, with so many devices lying around, mix-ups are possible and kids can grab the wrong device. To prevent others from unwarranted usage or accidental switches, ask your child to put a password on their phone, if they don’t already have one. This way, anyone other than your child trying to get into their phone will not only face a password block but find out that the device is not for them and hopefully return it.
  3.  Keep a charger in backpacks. If you send your child to school with a mobile phone, consider keeping a backup charger in their backpack. Cell phones can be a great resource for kids if there is an emergency while they are at school, but it is only helpful as long as it has battery. If they have a charger with them, even if they forgot to charge their phone before going to school, you know your child can always reach you if they need to.
  4. Consider location sharing. While far from a necessary aspect of safe school technology use, it is definitely something for some parents to consider. If you’re worried your child may forget to tell you his or her whereabouts during or after the school day, using location-sharing apps can be helpful.
  5. Leave some tech at home. While it may be tempting for your child to bring all of their gadgets to school, including fancy headphones, tablets or smart speakers, they should most likely leave the majority of these devices at home. They can get stolen, lost or damaged in the busy hallways or on the walk home in the rain from the bus stop. Talk to your child about which devices they are allowed to bring to school and which are best to leave home.

This article was authored by staff at the Family Online Safety Institute, a nonprofit organization that works to empower parents to confidently navigate the digital world with their kids. It was originally posted on their Good Digital Parenting blog and republished here with permission.

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