According to Pew Research Center, almost 75% of teens aged 13-17 have access to a smartphone. This survey states that 60% of kids receive some type of cell phone by age 10/11 – and the kids without smartphones likely have some form of personal technology device like an iPad or kindle tablet. With these overwhelming numbers, a technology policy is a must for every classroom. While your district may have technology rules, they may not be up to date; so a classroom policy is a must.
Technology includes more than just phones; tablets with 4G capabilities and smart watches have all of the functionality of a phone, they just have a different casing. Wearables like FitBit and Jawbone don’t have any active parts, but are still at risk for theft or loss if used in school. Avoid listing specific items for best results; technology is constantly changing, and outlawing “phones” leaves smartwatches, tablets, iPads and other devices open for interpretation. A broad term like “personal technology devices” covers pretty much everything that could come in.
Set Limitations and Expectations
Decide if you will allow phone or tablet use at all – or during specific times only. If you do allow your students to have technology in class, but not to use it at all times, they need a secure place to store their items when they are not in use. Your policy should clearly outline your expectations and also your responsibility when it comes to technology use – you need to be sure that you and the school are not held responsible for theft or damage.
What happens if a child uses a smartphone, Apple or other smartwatch or interactive wearable during class? Do you confiscate the item for a set period of time or for the rest of the day? Do students get a warning first? Do you require them to perform a chore or task before returning the phone? You not only need to decide what the penalties are for phone use in class, but also if there are increased penalties for repeat offenders.
Enforce your Policy
The best technology policy in the world won’t help if you don’t enforce it, or if your only enforce it sporadically. Your kids will quickly get a sense of how serious you are about allowing tech in the classroom and will know just how far they can bend the rules. Enforce the policy consistently and fairly for best results and if you feel like it is too lenient or too harsh, modify it to meet your goals instead of letting the rules lapse.