I was chatting with a friend of mine whose 5-year-old twins start school this year. She was telling me about the list of school supplies they need: pencils, crayons, paper, iPad..
Say again?? Yep, she said iPad. It was a new policy this year for all students at the school to have an iPad. Apparently her twins are not allowed to share, so she will have to purchase two of them.
I sat back and started thinking about this. Besides the obvious price implications of demanding parents buy an expensive device for their young child, what was being done to ensure safe and secure surfing?
1. Sharing iPads
Unlike Mac OS X, there’s no concept of multiple users accounts on an iPad (nor on an iPhone). This means the device might have much more valuable data on it than just things the young students put on there.
So, if a family’s iPad needs to go to school with little Jimmy, his parents’ apps and data could be exposed. Household accounts, banking apps, etc could be opened inadvertently.
Tip: Where possible, make sure you use a strong password for all apps that contain sensitive information.
With kids as young as five being mandated by the schools to have iPads, parents might be tempted to simplify their usage by not password-protecting the device, or giving a very simple passcode like 0000 or 1234.
Tip 2: Always password-protect your device and avoid the most commonly used passcodes.
If your child can handle the complexity, disable the Simple Passcode option and you’ll be able to choose a longer, more complex password which can comprise upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and even special characters.
3. Lost iPads
Kids are not known for looking after their belongings very well. All parents have heard the “I don’t know” response to a query about the location of something. It stands to reason that kids would also lose expensive iPads too. But what happens to the data on the device?
Tip: Install Apple’s Find my iPad app that helps you locate your device and provides a map to its whereabouts.
Alternatively, you can remotely set or turn on the passcode lock on an iPad, or send it a message to display on the device – playing a sound for two minutes at full volume (even if the iPad is set to silent).
The free app also has a remote wipe facility, so if you are unable to locate your iPad, or if it has been stolen, you can permanently wipe the device and restore it to factory settings.
There’s an equivalent app for the iPhone as well.
4. Malware and location tracking
Malware is not yet a massive problem on the iPad, thanks to it being very difficult for the everyday user to install anything apart from Apple-approved apps.
iOS malware such as iKee and Duh is so far limited to jailbroken devices.
With malware not a pressing problem, attention turns to the geolocation features present in many apps. Do parents really want their kids’ physical location to be broadcast to the internet?
Tip: Disable location tracking if you do not want your child’s physical location to be shared on the internet.
5. Guarding children against offensive content
The FCC has set out requirements for schools and libraries to follow if they’re offering internet access to minors. Don’t forget – children should not only be protected from the worst that the internet has to offer; they should also be accessing the net via a secure connection to avoid eavesdropping.
Tip: Parents should request written confirmation from the school on what steps have been taken to ensure their kids will be safe when surfing on the school’s WiFi internet connection.
For those who want to go further, iOS includes parental control facilities to let you manage iTunes purchases, web browsing, and access to explicit material.
If schools are going to demand that their young students have devices such as iPads, will they also teach lessons about cyber ethics and computer security to ensure that the child knows what behavior is appropriate online? Will little Jimmy know what to do if he encounters online bullies?
The new generation of children is more familiar with technology than any that has gone before it. Our jobs as parents and teachers is to make sure that we safeguard childrens’ use of the internet so they understand what is good and safe, and what is bad and best avoided.
While I am all for using technology in schools, and exposing kids to technology, I am left wondering if this is all as well thought through as it perhaps should be. Will a teacher with 30-40 students be able to provide the right level of diligence?
Full disclosure: My two year old, like many other toddlers, loves to play games on the iPhone and iPad. But I know what he’s doing, and it’s being done on a secure network and always when I can supervise.
30 comments on “iPads in the kindergarten? Some tips for better security and safety”
this must be a private school that requires a $500+ school supply
Better to tell the school in question – sharply – that an expensive iPad is an extremely inappropriate luxury purchase for a toddler.
It isn't required for school and most normal families would/should balk at the prospect.
Worse than that — IT'S MADE OF GLASS!!!
Any parent unhappy with the cost should just call health and safety. They wouldn't even let me drink out of glass in my primary school….
My child would have to fail because an Ipad in Kindergarten isn't an option.
This is just crazy. Kindergarteners should not need iPads. Pretty soon they'll need Smart Phones before they can register for Kindergarten. Lets save the techo items for later years.
Why does a school need an ipad? Perhap some agreement between the school and Apple. 😛 Also ipads are very costly and perhap won’t be very useful apart from games. Why can’t the school just buy 10 or so ipads and share it among students. In addition, it can be reused by next year student.
I personally have a huge issue with any school requiring iPads for another issue. By requiring a device like that it is the government supporting a particular company and giving them an unfair edge in the market. They require iPads and have now guaranteed a good number of iPad sales for these kids. Not only that but it indoctrinates them to that one system so in the future these kids will be more likely to use apple products because it is what they know due to being taught it in school. People underestimate the power of the school system in dictating what technology gets adopted and what gets tossed. Imagine if all the school systems started to use and teach linux. If this happened then within 10 years it would move into the dominate OS on PCs.
That's why Apple gave away multiple CPUs to every school in the nation in the 80's. They didn't however give them monitors, printers, mice etc. so the schools had to go to Apple and buy those things to make the "free" computers functional. Notice that your argument did not come to pass though as Apple is still very popular with teachers it never caught on where actual business was being done. I'll leave your Linux assumption for another religious debate.
But then again you could say this about Microsoft being taught my most schools around the world, I never knew there was anything else from windows until I was 15!!! I’m 22 now and very aware of the other systems out there, but not thanks to school or college.
Is the child non-verbal? I can see it in a classroom with kids who need assistive devices. I'm about to buy one for my 5 year old because he can't talk and the only decent ap for communication is Proloquo2Go, and it's only available on iPad (Grrrr. I would like it for Android) .
Either this is a very upscale private school or it's b.s.
I'm always interested in technology in the classroom, so I thought this was an interesting article. A couple points: numbers 4 and 5 are conflicting. To use Find My iPad, Location Services must be enabled. However, you can manage point #5 by enabling restrictions and the turning off all the apps (current and future) from using location services.
It's also unfortunate that the iPad doesn't allow you to manager the type of site you can visit (like blocking known adult sites) like on the Mac in System Preferences, Parental Controls.
" government supporting a particular company and giving them an unfair edge in the market"
More than likely this is a private school that is requiring the iPad. If a public school were to go with a tablet device, we would have to provide most likely due to equality rules. I can tell you that within 5-7 years all schools will all be using a tablet device of some type for school books, word processing, internet web page viewer etc. It just makes too much sense from a technology perspective.
What will control which device that is used, will actually be controlled by the Textbook companies more so than the school systems themselves. We are currently testing andriod tablets, ipads, chromebooks, and webOS devices. They all work fairly similarly as far as the functions we need for school. The main problem at the moment is the "dynamic textbooks" are not available yet. Yes you can put a PDF of the book on the device, but that isn't what the next-generation of textbook should or will look like. They will be dynamic with interactive content, and video.
If all the textbook companies decide to standardize on the Apple iPad, i will be hard to choose anything else. In time that will of course change, just like it did with the PC vs Mac in the past, but Apple is trying really hard to get the educational book companies to exclusively go into the iOS world. We shall see what happens.
"If all the textbook companies decide to standardize on the Apple iPad, it will be hard to choose anything else."
Not true. the iPad uses the ePub open standard for dynamic book content. This is pretty cool because the books behave like books, and can be .epub files can be played on any device that supports ePub.
you can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPUB
So the textbook manufacturers can build custom apps at great cost, or they can migrate to ePub or some other format. Either way the students, the teachers and the school administration will eventually win, for the reasons you described.
The big challenge for all the tablet vendors is getting the dinosaur publishers to migrate to digital in a meaningful way. Once they do then the kids who actually use textbooks will have some interesting choices that barely exist today.
For the record: ePub is just one of MANY different e-book standards! Those standards are incompatible with each other and conversion between formats is also difficult because the book structures are completely different.
I would guess that a LOT of families could not afford such a luxury for their kindergartner, especially with the economy the way it is. Schools have gotten to where they are asking way too much to be brought to school. My sister spent around $50 per child in school supplies last year. Her kids were in 2nd & 4th grades. That is an unreasonable amount of money. And we wonder why people are teaching their children at home! I believe that control is subtly being taken away from the parents and is being controlled by the school systems/government.
A casual observer would have done the trivial amount of research required to find that 1 kindergarten class is providing iPad2s free of charge to their students. This is a public school system in Maine. The parents pay nothing.
Several of these pieces of advice are based on assumptions and truly reach the plane of speculative fiction when considered in the proper context.
What, no hurricane angle?
For the record, no it wasn't "a public school system in Maine". I had heard about them, fwiw. And I still think that many of the points above are still quite valid.
I'm sorry but not only does that sound like a crazy requirement, but at that age – I can't help but think they want it as a simplified babysitter.
I can understand how textbooks on a iPad (or similar device) would be handy and much lighter and easier to carry than all those books. Plus – unless you lose the pad and therefore all your books, you don't have to worry about keeping track of all of them. And if it's used solely for school – one could keep the same one each year and just add the new books. However, how many books does one really have in kindergarten? Maybe I'm completely wrong – but seeing it as a practical device at that level just isn't working for me.
This is ridiculous, what is the school going to do with children who come from families where their parents can't afford iPads. My twins are 21 months old on Thursday and they won't be getting laptops until age 3/4 and then it'll be ones designed for kids with educational things on them.
You mean like this…
And imagine what it will be in 2 years! The learning experience is proving to be quite, well, fantastic. And the tools for disadvantaged learners are proving themselves in the classroom.
So why wait… start the learning as soon as you can. But start it at home… not in the kindergarden classroom.
Well this is stupid. I can't afford an iPad for MYSELF, and if I could, I surely wouldn't be letting a 5 yr old play with it at school, where anything could happen to it.
I was actually thinking of going back a hundred years or so of technology and getting my son a small chalk board like the ones that used to be popular at the turn of the 20th century (2000 started the 21st century, BTW). Those were great, no need for paper, just a the chalk board and a piece of chalk. They must have been pretty indestructible, too, since there are quite a few of them still available on Ebay.
Today was the first day back to school in Glendale, California, and the parents were invited to spend the first 10 minutes in their child's classroom. The Principal had called using the automated message system and told all the parents not to purchase supplies because the students would know what, if any, supplies they needed by the end of the day. My son is in third grade now (yeah!), and all the desks had their books for the year, plus a Ziplock bag with their name on it, with their school supplies:
They used to have a little pencil bag for each child, but ran out of funding, so they had to use the zippered Ziplock bags instead. Oh well! Since Kinder the kids have had computer lab, and have actually been taught to use a relatively strong password (Kudos to GUSD for that).
Here's what I would, as a parent, worry about if IPads were required:
1. The child loses it somewhere
2. The child drops it and breaks it
3. The child spills something on it
4. The child lends it out
5. The child leaves it at home
6. The child leaves it at Johnny's house were Johnny's dog gets a hold of it and chews it up.
7. The child doesn't charge it
8. The child puts it in the backpack with whatever nasty, sticky mess children often have in their backpacks
9. My child would put it in the backpack with the rocks he is constantly collecting, where it would ride around with the rocks and get jostled and badly scratched, if not completely broken.
It isn't just private schools doing this. Danville Community Schools have switched from textbooks to ipads. They claim it is cheaper. Wait until they get lost or stolen. As for tracking software you can get. Someone that knows what they are doing could remove that when they find it on there. Also many parents might not even know about that software.
Nice, simple explanation of techniques that can be used to keep the devices and kids safe.
If having to go to the expense of individual iPads for kids, I’d go so far as to ensure that only the child’s applications and data is on there. Separate iTunes account and non identifying email/contact information.
Finally, completely agree with ensuring the school provides written confirmation of the steps taken to protect the children online.
My head is wrecked at the audacity of a school mandating such a thing for that age group.
Re: Point 2 – if you set a 4-digit pin code on the iPad make it’s NOT the same as your house alarm code, your bank PIN number, phone banking number, or as is often the case “that PIN number you always use”.
If someone can’t get the number from little Johnny they’ll be able to watch him key it in at some point.
We’re going through the iPad as a school requirement here in NZ too, and in state funded schools!
I worked in the education sector and with early childhood educators and it is truly amazing how Apple has captured the attention of teachers to the point where they insist they have to have Macs because you can’t do things like video on PCs. For people who are supposed to be teaching children to be enquiring, courious, critical thinkers it’s astonishing that they can put so much faith in one platform above all others.
With regards to cybersafety in early childhood, the NZ govt sponsored a framework (pre-tablet ) for a cybersafety program in early childhood centres. Worth a read if you’re interested: http://www.netsafe.org.nz/the-netsafe-kit-for-ece…
I found this quite interesting, but your tips about iPad security contain a common mistake.
It is absolutely unnecessary to install the find-my-iphone-app in order to use remote features like find-my-ipad/iphone, remote wipe or remote lock.
The only thing you need to do is to generate a personal Apple-ID and to enter it under mail accounts. You will be offered to activate the location service für mobileme, and that's it.
By logging into the mobileme-website, the owner/parent can locate the device, send a message and so on.
The find-my-iphone-app on iphone/ipad is a convenient replacement for the mobile me-website, you can use it on your iphone to locate and ring your ipad, or vice versa. But the app does nothing to enhance the security of the device on which it is installed.
I don't really think that iPads or other tablet devices are a good idea for elementary school kids for reasons that go beyond the obvious issues of price tags and children losing them. There is lots of research that suggest that overexposure to TV, video games, etc. can be harmful to the mental development of young children. I've heard the recommendation is no more than an hour a day, and most kids are already getting more than that at home. It's kind of scary to think schools want to add several hours a day of schoolwork on top of that. Kids need to be interacting with other people and with the physical world at that age, not a computer screen!
Wait until High School or Jr. High to bring in the iPads, and then challenge the manufactures to come of with something with more controls for classroom use.
Why is this article even entertaining us with tips on how to send the thing to school with a toddler?. .. There shouldn’t be tips on safety. .. The article should give tips on how to tell the establishment to go *****…. we didn’t have to buy computers. .. they were already there!
my 6 year old child needs to have IPad for school. I am so worried about it being lost. I just don’t know what to do to curb chances of it being lost!