Use of Smart Watches at School

By Urs Cunningham | Posted: Thursday December 2, 2021

Kia ora koutou,

Over the past several months we have noticed an increase in the number of personal devices that students are bringing to school, particularly smart watches. Whilst we do not ban the use of smart watches and personal devices at school, there are some things that we wanted to bring to the attention of parents and caregivers as you make decisions about the devices your tamariki have, and how your tamariki use them at school.

In our school Internet and Cyber Safety Procedure we have a number of statements around the use of personal devices at school, and it is good to draw attention to this. Here are several useful aspects from the procedure to be aware of:

A student’s own personal device (tablet, phone, smart watch etc.) will not be used during school hours unless permitted and monitored by a teacher, for the purposes of learning.

- No student’s personal devices will be connected to the school network.

We are aware that some older students, in particular, may bring devices such as a mobile phone to enable them to be in touch with parents and caregivers after school. This generally works well, because phones can be kept safely in bags and should not be used during school hours. We are finding that with smart watches, this is quite different. They are easily accessible and easy to use throughout the day, which can cause some issues at times.

Here are some key things that we would like parents to be aware of regarding smart watches at school:

- They are expensive items and are usually very treasured by their owners. As a school, we strongly recommend that such precious items do not come to school.

- Schools can be rough and tumble places at times. Knocks and bumps can happen, and items can get damaged or broken. We take no responsibility for any damaged or lost personal devices.

- Our tamariki are young and are in the process of learning to be responsible for items. Whilst we teach our students to take care of school devices and resources, and we follow up if poor behaviour leads to items being damaged, we generally do not hold them responsible for payment or replacement of damaged items, except in specific circumstances of willful damage. Accidents do happen in schools, with many young children around. Our advice to parents is that if you are not willing to accept the risk of damage or loss of personal devices, please do not send them to school with your child, as we cannot guarantee their safety.

- Smart watches have been used a number of times to contact parents, and vice versa, during school hours. This can be tricky if a situation has happened or a child has become upset, and teachers are not aware of this. This can also cause anxiety for parents if they are not onsite at school and cannot directly help with the situation. It is important that tamariki come and see a member of staff if there are any issues at all at school, so that we can help to resolve issues and monitor ongoing situations. We will contact parents quickly if we see that it is necessary to do so.

- We have seen that smart watches can cause distraction from learning, as tamariki can easily and subtly use them to play games, send messages etc. Notifications and ‘pings’ from watches can also cause distraction.

- It is good to be aware that whilst we can monitor what ākonga are doing on school devices at all times, we cannot do this on personal devices.

If we see that devices such as smart watches are causing particular issues for individual students, we will let the student’s parents know. Ongoing issues may cause us to request that a particular student does not bring their device to school.

Our strong recommendation is that personal devices do not come to school unless necessary for a particular reason. We appreciate that in some circumstances it can be useful for older children to have a device in their bag so that they can contact family before or after school, if needed. This is why we do not ban all personal devices. However, we do ask that devices are kept in bags and are not used during school time. For smart watches we ask that they are not used as a personal device during school hours, and we ask parents and caregivers to support us with this.

Thank you for your support with this, and we are happy for you to get in touch with your child’s whānau teacher or with Urs if you would like to talk about this further. 

Ngā mihi, 

The Amesbury team