Back to School with Technology

This post in in partnership with U.S. Cellular.
Back to School Technology

My girls are firmly into their second week of school and I feel that finally, in fourth grade, we have this back to school thing down. The routines are running smoothly. Lunches are getting eaten (even with the new food restrictions.) And they have been on time EVERY SINGLE DAY.

One thing that threw me for a loop though, was the amount of tech this year. They have always had iPads in their classroom and email is the preferred school communication method. But we are definitely stepping up into the big time in 4th grade. Apps are a required part of learning and teachers are using everything from FB groups to websites. It’d definitely time for us to update our parent/child technology agreement (download yours here., it’s a lifesaver!)

If you are in the same boat and are thinking about purchasing some new devices or just need some insight on how to integrate technology into your child’s life, read on.

The combination of powerful, easy-to-use mobile devices and tablets along with a reliable network such as U.S. Cellular’s high-quality network with nationwide coverage gives kids access to information for school. And the bonus is parents’ piece of mind. The learning experience for students is evolving as more schools are opting for electronic textbooks and adopting technology like tablets and smartphones as learning tools.

That means wireless devices — like the Apple iPad Air— make it easier to get homework assignments, stay on top of studies and get input from school administrators and teachers.

Access to e-books, learning apps, online educational videos and the Internet can all enhance the learning experience. With reliable mobile access to the Internet on a high-speed network through U.S. Cellular, teachers and students can effectively harness the full capability of this technology…in the classroom, at home, on the bus, between practices or anywhere. The increased use of digital textbooks also means students don’t have to carry so much in their backpacks and they have access to the most up-to-date information.

U.S. Cellular’s high-speed network connects these students and teachers to all the information they need to excel in school, even if they are not in the classroom. But with this access there’s an uptick in inquiries about data usage, family plans and new devices at this time of year.

U.S. Cellular associates can offer families tips on choosing the right cellphones, tablets and data plans. In a recent U.S. Cellular survey, respondents said the average age of children getting their own cellphone from a parent is 11, whereas five years ago this age was 14. That same survey showed that safety was the primary reason but I definitely think the increase in tech based learning contributes!

A mobile phone or tablet of there very own serves many essential purposes in kids daily lives. It can strengthen relationships between children and their parents and can also create a lot of family fun. But getting a child their first device comes with responsibility. It’s helpful to establish parameters, and the key is making sure both parents and children see eye-to-eye on how the devices are used.

To make this process as easy as possible for both parents and kids, U.S. Cellular recommends that families work together on guidelines for cellphone usage to ensure that children are using their phones responsibly, courteously and safely. That’s why U.S. Cellular created the Parent-Child Agreement. It provides customizable suggestions on safety and etiquette and shows how technology can enhance time spent together as a family. It is designed so that each family can choose the guidelines that fit their specific needs.

More tips parents can use when introducing their child to their first device… Take the time to set up your child’s device to ensure they only have access to features and apps that are appropriate for their age. There are apps available that help parents monitor their child’s mobile web usage and allow parents to block certain websites and restrict the downloading of applications.

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