How to Manage Your Child's School-Issued Computer

If your child has a school-issued computer, you need to follow a few hard and fast rules. Follow our guide to ensure your child stays safe.
Manage Your Child's School-Issued Computer

To circumnavigate COVID-19 and continue the learning process at home, many schools have issued children with computers. School-issued computers mean your child can attend online classes and take part in activities without missing out on their education during the pandemic. However, giving a child a computer comes with many safety and wellbeing concerns. 

Thankfully, there are many things you can do to make sure that your child uses their school-issued computer safely and effectively.

Be clear on rules ahead of time

Kids love gadgets, and chances are your child will be very excited to have their own computer. Amidst the excitement, it’s crucial that you implement a set of rules and agreements right from the start. 

First, it’s important to stress that the computer belongs to the school and therefore it requires careful treatment. Be clear on how to handle the device, not to bring food or drinks near it, and how to behave in online classes. Discuss these topics with your child so they understand the reasoning behind it all. Simply saying don’t drink over the keyword won’t make too much impact. But if you tell them that a spill could stop the computer from working, they’ll understand the rule far better.

Next, the school computer should only be for school activities. Usually, an administrator will have disabled download capabilities so that nothing extra is downloaded onto the device. However, there is still likely to be a web browser. If your child uses another device like a tablet for games and entertainment, keep this separate. This will also help you monitor entertainment screen time versus school-related screen time.

Setting up the device

Make sure that you understand your school’s program, including what the purpose of the computer is, how much data will be necessary, and how your child’s learning schedule ties in.

Some schools will be a lot more organized and have an entire curriculum set up and each day carefully structured. Other schools are new to this and will simply have some tools, apps and sites for your kids to use. If you want to know more about the apps on the device and why they are in use, don’t hesitate to ask your school about this. 

Your child will probably get a school account and a personal log-in for their device. Set up a password that only your child and you know. Discuss how to choose strong passwords and keep them safe. In addition, parents and caregivers get their own log-in to the classroom management tools for things like school communications and checking grades.

Be aware of internet access

Although download capabilities are more than likely blocked on the device, your child will still have access to a web browser. This means they can surf the web, access social media, and visit various websites. 

You probably won’t be able to install parental controls on a school-issued device, but you can ask your child’s teacher or tech coordinator if tools like SafeSearch will be set up on the computer. If you worry about your child accessing unsafe websites, raise these concerns with the school so that you can work towards a solution.

Manage your child’s screen time

During this time of online learning, it’s natural that the time your child spends in front of a screen will increase. Just ensure that you still monitor this time, and that it doest get out of hand.

Ask their teacher how much time they expect a child to spend on the device. Of course, this will vary from student to student, but if your child is spending two hours on something designed to take 20 minutes, there’s clearly something going wrong.

Most likely, there will be a lot of offline work built into the learning day, such as writing, drawing, maths exercises, and other activities. But it’s also important for you to make sure your child is getting enough time away from the screen for their mental and physical wellbeing. Establish off-screen hours as well as off-screen zones such as the bedroom. It is highly important to set a device cutoff time at night, as screen time in the evening can negatively affect your child’s sleep.

Privacy and tracking

You should receive a student privacy policy which provides information on what data the computer tracks and why. 

Information from learning apps may be shared with teachers so that they can assess each student’s performance and progress. The computer may also have software installed that tracks what websites your child visits, what software is being used, and possibly the device’s location. This can be useful in making sure your child is holding up the agreement of using the computer only for school-related activities. 

Safety Online

You should have many discussions with your child about safety online, whether they have a school-issued computer or not. 

Even if you are strict, chances are your child will find their way to a web browser at some point. Educating your child on internet safety is just as crucial as educating them about stranger danger and how to be safe out in the world. Make sure they know not to give information such as their address to anyone online, not to talk to people they don’t know, and not to visit unknown websites.


Bullying happens not only on the playground, and cyberbullying can be extra vicious because of the anonymizing layer of the computer screen. Find out what measures your school has put in place to prevent cyberbullying, and what their policy of dealing with it would be. 

In addition, make sure your child understands what cyberbullying is. Encourage a culture of openness at home so that your child knows they can come to talk to you anytime if anyone is making them feel uncomfortable or hurt online. 

Final Thoughts

School issued computers can be highly beneficial and are allowing many children to continue their education despite the pandemic. However, as with any new thing your child is exposed to, it’s important to be cognizant of the risks involved.

Open dialogue between you and your child, as well as with the school, can help keep everyone on the same page about safety and how to use school-issued computers.