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Like any tool, iPads can be used…and misused

“It’s the same as bullying with a phone or computer,” noted Shady Spring High School teacher Elizabeth Morgan. “The iPad is not the problem.”

Raleigh County Schools Superintendent Jim Brown noted that many kids already have unfiltered internet access during school hours and at home via cell phones.

In bullying and accessing of inappropriate sites, he said, the iPad isn’t the problem.

“It’s a discipline problem,” he noted. “It becomes a management problem.”

Brown said district technicians built iPad restrictions that are in place even outside school, and that every Raleigh student underwent cyberbullying training when they received their iPads — a level of professional development that was recently noted by the president of the National Board of Education.

Students also signed an agreement that they would not change the settings on their iPads to bypass the limits the school district had set on how they can be used, he added.

Brown said that the goal is to lead students in the productive use of the iPad, and it’s a partnership between parents and schools.

“I would say many of our homes in Raleigh County have some type of access to the internet,” he noted. “Ultimately, parents have to monitor and regulate the amount of time a child’s on the iPad but also keep an eye on what they’re doing on the Internet.”

In the Los Angeles United School District — a California district that is the largest to have enacted a 1:1 iPad initiative like Raleigh has — LAUSD technology director Themy Sparangis said each community must teach and practice “digital citizenship.”

“Our obligation is citizenship in a digital world, which is fairly new to all of us,” Sparangis said. “That obligation falls on our schools and governments, just as it does regular citizens.”

A good starting point is to teach kids that if something is too personal or damaging to share face-to-face, it shouldn’t be shared electronically, he said.

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