Back to school: Are you prepared?

Parents everywhere have been preparing for the back to school rush. It’s a ritual of making sure that the children are equipped with new backpacks, new binders, sports gear and uniforms and so on. For some parents, there is the complexity of purchasing a new laptop or tablet and having to decide which one to buy.

If you are still in the depths of deciding which device to purchase, my earlier blog may help you and can be found here:  7 tips for picking the right back to school device.

I sent my son off to school with the same laptop he had last year. If you’re doing the same, I recommend you take the time to ensure it’s working as expected and in a clean state – just like you would with the backpacks and other gear.

As part of being a responsible parent, it’s important to have visibility to what our kids are doing on those laptops and tablets, especially on hand-held devices such as a smartphone.  While we don’t want to be intrusive, we do want to ensure our kids are being safe online and are using these connected devices in a responsible and mature way.

I feel that what kids do online is ultimately the parent’s responsibility. Just like children are taught to cross the road safely, guidance is needed in the online world.  Some schools have even supported this notion by requiring parents to sign school acceptable usage policy, which makes them responsible. See my previous blog on this:  Parents, have you signed a school digital policy?

AVG recently commissioned a Harris Poll which asked parents in the United States about their monitoring habits. First, 85% of parents said that their 3-17 year old does indeed have their own device – and most of them got that device by the 7th grade (or age 11)! I’d be willing to bet that the remaining 15% are in the younger age group because when we’re talking about older children, I believe it’s really closer to 100%.

Are parents looking and monitoring those gadgets? 88% of U.S. parents say they do check their child’s activity online with more than 60% checking at least once a week.  However, about 1 in 10 never check their child’s text messages, emails, social media, etc. Some say because they believe it’s an invasion of privacy. When my son was younger, he always used devices in a public setting in the home like the living room or the kitchen and as a minor; we didn’t consider his online use needing to be private.  Now that he’s older, I give him a lot more space.

More than half don’t know the password of their kid’s device. I think in reality though, parents may think they know the password but when placing the device in front of them and asked to unlock it, many probably couldn’t.

In my family environment we encourage dialogue about being online and it is understood to be a privilege to have devices. And its understood that if I want to have a look then I can. We also have other rules that mean no devices after 9pm, not in bedrooms and never at the meal table. Every family will have different rules but keeping some family time without devices is a good thing, especially if all the adults participate.

As your child heads of to school in the coming weeks remember that the devices the are carrying are a learning tool in the same way their text books and notebooks need to be in good order, so do their technology.  Making sure they are performing well and running securely is a parent’s responsibility, we have some free software that will assist you – AVG Antivirus FREE & AVG Antivirus for Android will do a quick cleanup.  To keep those devices working at their optimum, download a trial of AVG PC TuneUp and run the recommended maintenance items.

Good luck with the new school year.

Follow me on Twitter @TonyatAVG

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