As a general rule I don’t like to bitch about my kids’ schools in general. Overall, I think they do a good job. In some areas they do better than others but let’s be honest no school is ever going to be 100% perfect. As a former High School Teacher I really try so hard to err on the side of the school and will typically come down quite hard on my kids. Sometimes I need to remember that my kids are doing the best they can and perhaps it isn’t them I need to be cross with.
This afternoon was one of the times when I firmly cam down on the side of my daughters! Our daughters have a 1:1 iPad program at their school. We had no choice in this, we had to provided devices. We signed an acceptable usage policy at the beginning of the year. It was all the usual things, no messaging in class, no cyber bullying, no inappropriate usage etc. I don’t believe that 10yr old children are old enough nor mature enough to have the responsibility of carrying to and from school a device that is in the scheme of things quite fragile. Additionally I do not believe that in anyway are 10yr olds (turning 11) are in anyway mature enough for the responsibility of the use of said device. Potentially there are a whole lot of adults out there that are not mature enough to be using said devices but that is probably another can of worms all together.
I have many issues with a 1:1 program. If the school insists on having one then a laptop is much easier to parental controls onto that do not interfere with the school firewalls and security software. The security apps that are available for iPads interfere with firewalls and need to be disabled for school. It is incredibly difficult to ensure that kids are safe when using iPads, it is fine if you have the know how to put time limits, site blocking etc at a router level, but if you don’t then it is a complete minefield out there for kids! In addition to this there is of course the private browsing option that apple so kindly offer on all their devices, this cannot be switched off at all and kids are well aware of this. So get around parents checking kids simply use private browsing options.
If I hear one more time from a school that if the kids don’t get used to the technology they will be left behind I will seriously scream! I am 45 in a month (eeeekkkkk really that soon!) and I have in reality only had the internet for 20 years of my life, and we had our first home computer an Amstrad when I was 15. Guess what I adapted pretty quickly. My parents grew up in an era without them too. My Dad actually worked in the Data Centre of a major bank in various cities, he was also involved in the introduction of ATM’s and Bankcards into Australia. As a nation we are really quite good at being early adopters of new technologies! I am not sure of the actual numbers now but there was a time when there was at least one mobile phone for every Australian. Which if you think about it meant that many people had more than one phone. Anyway, I digress.
Last week a note came home telling parents that our children were no longer allowed to message their friends outside of school hours as there were some sending messages later than 9pm. There were a few other requests such as removing Facebook, Instagram, Kik, Snapchat, Twitter AND FaceTime (this is part of the iOS software). The note also told us as parents to discuss these issues with our children. Something that I am reliably told we did do, have a conversation again, about the expectations that we as their parents have of them using ridiculously expensive devices!
Some of the rules we have are:
- Our children’s devices are put on charge in our bedroom every night by 8pm for the girls and as soon as home work is completed for our eldest in yr 9.
- In the afternoons they must have some outside, non screen time (no tv, no iPads, no games etc,) they know they need to run around and get rid of some energy.
- We also like them to rest their eyes totally and not just sit and read instead of using devices because they still need to rest their eyes and reading is not resting their eyes.
On the flip side we do let the kids watch some tv or some videos on their devices approved by us. We also let them message their friends and talk with this cousins who are not local. These are parenting choices we make. They may not be the same as other parents, there are without a doubt days when I will let the kids spend far too much time on devices but sometimes that is what you need to do to get through.
Anyway, when this note came home our girls and one of their good friends were quite upset that this new rule meant that they were no longer allowed to chat to each other OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL HOURS! The parents of the other child are family friends of ours we feel really comfortable around them, you know those friends that you know you can be yourselves and not be judged! It is no wonder our girls are friends. We had a conversation and agreed that as we had discussed it as the parents of these children that they could still message each other outside of school hours, including FaceTime should they choose to. In many ways telling parents that we are not to allow our children to message their friends is the same as a note coming home from school for my generation telling my parents to not allow me to use the family phone. Surely, that is a decision for my parents to make not the school on my parents behalf.
Today, my daughters, their friend and a number of other children had their iPads that are owned by us their parents taken off them with an infringement note sent home. Our daughters have had to sign that they understand their iPad has been removed. The reason for this is that we allowed our daughters to message one child in their year. We did this in conjunction with the parents of the other child! In fact I would argue that our two families were most likely the most responsible about the entire situation. The reason for removal is they messaged after the note came home.
Hubby tried to speak to the school about the situation this afternoon but got no joy from the teacher he spoke with and was referred to the principal. So this evening Hubby has penned a letter to the principal and will not be signing the infringement note because he does not agree at all. This means that I doubt our daughters will get their iPads back tomorrow. According to the policy we have signed the iPads remain at the school until the infringement note is returned signed. Hubby says he is in dispute with the infringement note in the first place so will not sign it but will include the letter outlining why he is not signing in place of the signature.
I just want to make it totally clear that if our children any of them were in any way at all involved in any form of bullying cyber or otherwise, inappropriate usage of iPads at school (use at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing, playing games etc) then we would be in full support of disciplinary actions. We are (as are our friends) struggling to understand how our school feels they have the right to tell us as parents how to parent our children. Clearly, they know exactly who is messaging after 9pm at night, I am certain they know which children are using the devices inappropriately so why not have specific conversations with those parents directly. If these devices were school supplied then certainly they can tell them how and when they can use them. Ultimately however, we OWN these devices.
Are we wrong in being so upset about this and thinking the school had no right to keep our daughters devices overnight or until we return the infringement note signed? What would you do?