E-Threats Mobile & Gadgets

From Pencils to Tablets: The Changing Security Risks of 21st Century Schooling

From Pencils to Tablets: The Changing Security Risks of 21st Century Schooling

From Pencils to Tablets: The Changing Security Risks of 21st Century SchoolingEach fall, back-to-school preparation for students around the world is focusing less and less on pens and notepads and more on tablets, smartphones and other cool gadgets.

To support a dynamic 21st century learning environment, schools have started to embrace the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) or bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) trend by introducing special IT policies and software. But until this becomes the norm, parents voice concerns about potential negative impacts of unrestricted digital connectivity in schools.

The security risks

As seen in the corporate world, without proper IT policies and specific security solutions for laptops, smartphones and tablets, the BYOD trend can have significant safety implications for both the end-user and an organization’s network. In an educational context, this means:


According to recent Bitdefender data, 30 per cent of users aged 14-15 years are sending hate messages, while 34 per cent of users aged 10-12 were seen trying to access social networks despite terms and conditions that prohibit users under the age of 13.


One in three Android device users sends inappropriate text messages to their peers, while 71 per cent of desktop users mostly use their device to browse the web, Bitdefender says.

Access and creation of inappropriate content

Google, Twitter and Wikipedia are among the most visited sites, but under-aged children are also interested in instant messaging (a third of users aged between 8-9 years) and search for hacking-related material, gambling, online videos, computer games (one in four users aged 7) and violent cartoons.

Knowing that kids love games, Google has introduced password protection on newer versions of Android tablets to prevent outrageous credit-card bills coming from accidental in-app purchases. A similar AppLock feature can also be found in third party apps, such as Bitdefender Mobile Security.

Not surprisingly, 35 per cent of users who tried to access online dating sites are only 14 and 15 years old. And a quarter of those interested in pornography are no older than 15, the majority of them being male.

Digital distraction and cheating in tests

The most popular applications teens access on their mobile devices are Firefox (11.1 per cent), YouTube (5.6 per cent) and Internet Explorer (4.8 per cent), which can mean they are not paying attention to classes or they are looking up answers during exams. Their overall searches fall in one of the three categories: business (17.8 per cent), social networks (11.3 per cent) and online shops (11.03 per cent).

Device and ID theft

Children can misplace or have their phone or tablet stolen – and all their personal information with them. To mitigate this threat, security providers such as Bitdefender have created complete mobile security solutions, including anti-theft functions that help the owner find, lock and wipe the mobile device.

Taking these risks into account, what do you think of BYOD in schools?

About the author

Alexandra GHEORGHE

Alexandra started writing about IT at the dawn of the decade - when an iPad was an eye-injury patch, we were minus Google+ and we all had Jobs. She has since wielded her background in PR and marketing communications to translate binary code to colorful stories that have been known to wear out readers' mouse scrolls. Alexandra is also a social media enthusiast who 'likes' only what she likes and LOLs only when she laughs out loud.