The Smartphone Problem in Schools - we talk with Radio NZ

It was great to speak with Kathryn Ryan from Radio New Zealand on the problem of smartphones in schools. Many of the schools we talk with are concerned about the rise of smartphone use in schools, and say that the majority of secondary school students now own a smartphone.

The main concerns involve students bypassing default internet filtering systems, and this generally occurs in one of two ways:

  1. By downloading a VPN (Virtual Private Network) from the app store, and connecting to school wifi but able to create a private 'tunnel' to bypass school internet filtering
  2. By turning up to school with 3G/4G data, and bypassing school internet filtering altogether. This data can also be used to hotspot other devices. 

The link to the full interview is available here.

Considerations for schools in solving the smartphone problem include: 

  • The importance of student wellbeing and a school's duty of care to provide age-appropriate guardianship - keeping students safe online while on school grounds. 
  • The extent of VPN use, with our research showing that over one third of high school students have attempted to use a VPN at school. If you'd like a copy of this report you can download it here. 
  • The importance of community engagement to bring parents on board and collaborate over smartphone responsibility.  
  • How visibility of online behaviour leads to accountability at school, in compliance with school internet policies. 
  • How reporting on at-risk behaviour can lead to support and guidance to develop good digital citizenship practices. 

Family Zone provides a unique ecosystem approach, and supports school community engagement. Solutions include the Family Zone smartphone control app, and smart 'machine learning' technology to block VPN use, to keep kids safe anywhere, any time.

Not only is every device a learning device on school grounds; those devices seamlessly transition between home and school, and everywhere in between. 

For information on our School Partner Programme, and on our smartphone solution for schools, contact us now.


Topics: vpn, New Zealand, school filtering, Duty of Care, Education, cyberbullying

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