Get Your Child’s Tech Ready for Back to School

September 11, 2020

Schools across the country are getting kids back to school in different ways, from full in-person teaching to all distance learning and everything in between. But whatever the school year looks like in your area, chances are it involves technology. 

To help you ensure that the technology your child needs to learn this school year is in top shape, we’ve gathered the following tips. 

Fine tune the settings.

Now is a great time to check the various settings on your child’s devices, particularly if you’ve relaxed screen rules over the summer. Settings you’ll want to check and change for the school year include: 

  • Privacy and location sharing 
  • Sleep time
  • App use limits
  • Content restrictions
  • Notifications

Tune up the hardware.

Just like a car, your child’s core technology devices—laptops, desktop computers, iPads and so on—can benefit from regular tuneups. This is especially true if the device is three years or older, or has sustained any recent bumps or falls.

  • Kids’ tech devices often pick up more than their fair share of sticky fingerprints. Start the new school year with a fresh slate by cleaning their devices. You can use the manufacturer’s instructions or check out this PC cleaning guide from NewEgg.
  • If your child’s device is running slowly or can’t hold a charge, it might be time for a professional tuneup. Be sure to take it in for a full diagnostic checkup before school deadlines start kicking in. 

Download and update software.

Your child will likely use a variety of programs and apps during the school year, even if they’re learning in person. Download and familiarize yourself with any new software, and complete any necessary updates on the software you already have. 

  • Make sure all the latest antivirus and antipiracy software is installed on your child’s computer. Check your district’s website; many offer downloadable antivirus software free of charge. 
  • Operating system updates can take a long time to run and cause unexpected glitches after completion. Give yourself ample time before the school year starts to run any updates and test apps out.

Know where to go for help.

When a program freezes or a laptop goes dark without warning, you don’t want to spend time hunting for help. Make sure everything your child will need for a successful year is at your fingertips before the first day. 

  • If your school or district offers tech support, make a note of their contact information in case any problems come up. For backup assistance, write down the same details for the companies that make the individual hardware and software your child uses. 
  • Bookmark the websites your child will have to access for school in advance. You can also bookmark helpful sites like a dictionary, a thesaurus, or other learning resources approved by your district. 

Get clear on the rules.

The transition from summer to school is always an adjustment, for kids and parents alike. But this year, with the pandemic blurring the lines between home and the classroom, it’s more important than ever to establish clear rules around device use.

  • Make separate screen time rules for school and home use. If you include homework in a child’s total screen time, you run the risk of them rushing through their schoolwork to get to the “fun” stuff more quickly.
  • After a summer of chatting and gaming with their friends, kids and teens might need a few reminders about appropriate online interactions. Go over the rules for communicating with teachers and fellow students in online communications.