Is your school really prepared for BYOD?

Protecting the digital natives

Current figures show that children between the ages of 12-15 spend just under 5 hours per day using devices to watch content, interact on social networking sites or play games. Schools are capitalising on children’s familiarity with the digital landscape by incorporating devices such as tablets, Chromebooks, laptops and into lessons. In schools, these new technologies create a dynamic learning environment that keeps student engagement high, and encourage both collaboration and autonomy. However, the introduction of these internet enabled devices into the classroom can impact a child’s welfare due to online safety risks, such as exposure to harmful and inappropriate content, cyberbullying or grooming.

In this article we will explore some of the dangers associated with the BYOD model, as well as steps school leaders can to safeguard their students as they navigate the digital landscape. We will also share reputable resources and guidance on safe online behaviour.

B.Y.O.D.R? Bring Your Own Device Risks

According to Ofcom’s “Children and parents: media use and attitudes report 2016” 83% of children age 5-15 have access to a tablet computer. With more and more schools having reliable wireless networks, many are implementing BYOD solutions.
The Bring Your Own Device model, involves students bringing their technology of choice to school to use within lessons. These devices enable students to create and collaborate – working in groups to solve problems using approved online resources and educational apps. They also have the ability to deliver their work in an innovative way, using video, slideshows or imagery. The BYOD model has contributed to increased engagement and improved student outcomes because students are empowered as a result of being placed at the centre of the learning process, using devices they’re familiar with.

However, unless effectively managed this model does introduce new risks into the classroom – particularly to safety and security.

Geo-tagging – putting your children on the map

Social media networks policies dictates that children under 13 are not permitted to register an account. However, this has not deterred underage children from creating social media profiles with a fake age. With increased access to their mobile devices during schools hours, students are able to browse the internet, post status updates and share photos all while on school premises. This poses a safety risk due to many smart phones and tablets having built in GPS, which allows popular applications to utilise geo-location when photos or statuses are shared online.

An example of the implications of this functionality is demonstrated by Snapchat’s new feature – Snapchat Maps. Snapchat enables users to share pictures and videos called ‘stories’ with their ‘friends’ in real time. These stories disappear after 24 hours (but there are ways for users to capture or ‘screenshot’ photos in the app).

Snapchat Maps now shares the user’s location (as specific to very street) in real time to anyone in their contact list. While the feature can enable users to see what their friends are up to and meet up, it does also present the opportunity for predators to learn critical information like a child’s home or school location.

Users can opt out of sharing their location by appearing in “Ghost mode” but many are not aware of the steps they can take to disable this feature or limit who sees them.

Click this link for instructions on how to turn off Snapchat Maps

Too much of a good thing?

While the BYOD model is a great way to transform learning in the classroom allowing students to access the information highway and powerful media content to support lessons – it does have its downsides. According to a Child Net research, they have seen 12% increase in instances of cyber bullying among young people. With more frequent access to technologies, instances of cyber bullying is likely to increase with students creating group chats or accessing social media to share malicious messages on school grounds.

Students are also able to access and view harmful and inappropriate media content of a violent or adult nature.

Mitigate risks
There are a number of steps that schools can take, in an effort to safeguard its students against the dangers they may encounter online. are encouraged to implement a web filtering solutions on its network to block social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Tumblr to safeguard against instances of cyberbullying and to avoid children sharing photos and their location online.

An “acceptable use” policy is also a must, to regulate and outline what is deemed as responsible or irresponsible online behaviour. Students, staff and parents need to understand that inappropriate behaviours will not be tolerated.  When drafting an acceptable use policy, schools may require guidance on how to create an all-encompassing policy, which addresses all areas of concern surrounding safer internet use by students.

Joskos – supporting safeguarding and online safety

Joskos Solutions’ DBS checked engineers receive frequent safeguarding and online safety training from government approved agencies to ensure they are aware of the latest developments in e-safety. Joskos works with schools to provide workshops for staff, students and school leaders in line with Ofsted’s new Online Safety Standards. Our CPD experts will assist your staff in building awareness around online safety risks and provide advice on how students and staff can safeguard themselves against them.

Classroom management tools are also an effective way to monitor and manage devices used in lessons. Joskos partners with NetSupport School and Impero, who both offer classroom and network management tools with a focus on online safety. Impero’s Education Pro and NetSupport School classroom management tools place control in the hands of teachers allowing them to monitor multiple student device screens in real time. Remote control permits teachers to identify misuse or inappropriate behaviour and take action by locking screens, blocking certain web pages or disabling the internet when needed.

These products can also identify keywords and phrases which are “trigger terms” that can assist in preventing or defending against incidences such as grooming or radicalisation. In a school environment this gives school leaders the confidence that they are helping to keep their students safe.

There are many sites and resources available to teachers and school leaders on how they can involve students and advise on responsible online behaviour. Visit our Online Safety page for great safety tips and measures that can be taken to safeguard your students.

In addition, have a look at these video clips below:

It is a school’s responsibility to safeguard its students against any kind of psychological, physical or emotional abuse and to provide a safe learning environment. Ofsted’s policies, inspection frameworks and regulation have been put in place to acts as guidance as well as evaluate the effectiveness of schools’ safeguarding procedures.

If you would like advice on BYOD implementation or guidance developing your school’s safeguarding policy, speak with one of our Educational Technology Specialist. Fill in the form or contact us at: or phone: 0845-37-000-38

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