Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs in schools have the potential to enhance learning outcomes for students. Thousands of Australian schools are adopting BYOD programs to help foster STEM learning and get students ready for the workforce. Studies have shown that students who use BYOD devices experience improved academic scores as direct result of digital thinking. However, there is also a risk that BYOD could lead to online bullying and inequality within schools.
How can BYOD be successful in schools, while also ensuring that cyberbullying does not become a problem?
The impact of BYOD on cyberbullying
BYOD has been targeted recently by State Governments in Australia as one of the root causes of Cyberbullying. In some states such as NSW, a potential ban on the use of mobile devices in schools may come into effect, disadvantaging students who legitimately need their devices for learning.
Cyberbullying is repeated bullying carried out through the internet or mobile devices and is especially common among children and teenagers. It can be invasive, difficult to escape and can happen at all hours. Cyberbullying incidents have increased in Australia, with approximately one in five children (under 18) reporting being bullied online. There are various reasons why online bullying is so rampant in Australia, but it can mostly be attributed to the widespread use of internet-connected devices and social media apps.
Bullying can also occur between students over inequity of devices or through inappropriate and intentionally damaging emails or social messages. Bullies do not even need to meet with their victims face-to-face. They can set up fake social media profiles and post hurtful comments, photos or videos about other students without alerting teachers. It is so easy to share content on social media and cyberbullies can reach a large audience in seconds.
What should schools do?
Schools may be tempted to ban mobile devices completely to avoid such issues, but there are ways to implement BYOD policies while also keeping students safe. Strategies involve supervising and promoting responsible internet use, limiting or denying student access to social platforms and installing student wellbeing technology such as Cyberhound on all devices.
Utilising safe software technology can help prevent students accessing inappropriate material and give schools a firewall that operates at the top level of the OSI network model, giving a complete view of a school’s internet activity. Adjustable Sixth Sense Technology (SST) can also analyse and identify online risks or patterns of behavior and send reports to school leaders.
Beyond IT solutions, it is important to have clear anti-bullying processes in place, informing students that cyberbullying will not be tolerated and the potential consequences. All parents and teachers should be aware of the latest offensive slurs and apps kids use (or misuse) so that they will recognise issues and take action early.
It is also vital to encourage students to report instances or evidence of cyberbullying so there are grounds for you or counsellors to intervene. Children experiencing cyberbullying may seem moodier than usual, avoid school and social activities or seem jumpy around electronic devices. It is important to raise awareness that anti-bullying organisations like The Alannah & Madeline Foundation, ReachOut, Kids Helpline or esafety exist and are valuable resources for parents, teachers and students.
Empower IT Solutions have worked closely with schools to develop a Managed BYOD education solution that combats these issues and streamlines BYOD deployment. Our complete BYOD solution takes into account everything from mandated devices, network security, policies, software, NAPLAN requirements and student welfare. We also preconfigure Australia’s most trusted and comprehensive student wellbeing technology CyberHound on all school BYO devices. CyberHound software offers the following:
LiveZone – Gives you complete visibility over in-class online activities so you can ensure students are using the internet responsibly.
ClearView – Utilises artificial intelligence and behavioural analytics to identify offensive material and cyberbullying victims so you can intervene and provide the necessary support.
Web Filtering – Allows you to block harmful websites that promote cyberbullying like social networking platforms and anonymous online forums.
RoamSafe – Enables you to enforce responsible internet use policies even when students are off the school network.
SpeakUp – Provides students with an anonymous platform to report cases of cyberbullying and online harassment.
Preventing cyberbullying is a difficult challenge for any school implementing BYOD policies, but it is not impossible. With good policies and our cutting-edge Managed BYOD solution, you can make your school and network a safe place for all your students. Contact us today to find out more about our education and cybersafety solutions.