Turns out the problem with issuing iPads to high school students, as LA is doing in a $1 billion program for its public schools, is…they actually want to use them for stuff other than school work. So finds the LA Times, which notes that it only took about a week for students to figure out how to remove the school restrictions on the tablets so they could use them for things they wanted to do, such as social networking or streaming Pandora.

As a result, the school has halted its tablet roll-out program, at least insofar as letting students take the devices home, until it can figure out a way to protect the tablets better from unauthorized non-academic use.

Yeah, good luck with that. If you’re going to give the kids access to the tablets at all, they’re going to be able to find ways around whatever security you put on them. When you have physical access to the hardware, you can hack it. That’s just how it is. And besides, they’re high school students. They’ve got the time and interest and drive to learn (but, ironically, to learn the things their school doesn’t want them to) that will inspire them to break the locks faster than the adults can put them on.

Besides, these are kids of the current generation. They know what these tablets are capable of doing—they’ve grown up around that kind of tech. If they’re given the tablet to take away from the school, they’re going to feel entitled to do out-of-school things with it. And as the music, movie, and video game industries could tell you, there’s little that’s more dangerous, or capable, than an entitled-feeling teenager.

And seriously, guys, what’s the problem here? Any students with their own computers or smartphones will be doing those things on their personal hardware anyway. Why penalize the kids who aren’t well-off enough to have their own? “[S]tudent safety is of paramount concern,” school administrators say. Yeah, right. More like legal liability is a concern.

(Hat tip to The Digital Reader for the link.)


  1. Understanding K-12 administrators is akin to understanding politicians. They both have to satisfy the aggravated without aggravating the satisfied.
    Until they become self-regulating later in life (we hope), kids will explore things well beyond what some families think they should. When the gear comes from the school and kids cross that boundary using that gear, parents hold the schools responsible and become a political problem for school administrators. It’s banned books writ large – very large.
    None of the articles I’ve read on this topic provide details on what this school district is actually using to effect these controls. I would guess that they are using Parental Controls. As I look at the Parental Controls features in iOS 7 (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4213?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US), I find it difficult to understand how students would be able to delete the Settings as reported unless they have the passcode. Possibly, this is an instance of the iOS 7 lock screen bug that was just fixed with iOS 7.0.2.
    While I think that full web access presents a great teaching and learning opportunity where young people can better prepare for the real world, I also understand the bind that K-12 schools are in. Not all parents agree that their children are ready for a full dose of the real world and the concept of in loco parentis is still not yet completely dead. Even college students sometimes have “helicopter parents” trying to protect them from dangers foreign and domestic, real and imagined.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail newteleread@gmail.com.