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Security Risks Involving Mobile Devices in 21st Century Schools

Teenage students using their phones at school

In order to support the 21st century dynamic learning environment, schools are now embracing the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) or bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) model by introducing special IT policies and dedicated software. But, until this becomes the normal practice, parents have concerns about the potential negative impacts of giving unrestricted digital connectivity to their kids in schools.

Security risks

With the corporate world having its own share of poor security solutions for employees’ laptops, phones and tablets, the BYOD model can have significant safety implications for both the end-user and the organization’s network. Liekwise, in an educational context, this could result in:


According to a recent Bitdefender data, about 30 per cent of users aged 14-15 years are sending hate messages to others, while 34 per cent of users aged between 10-12 were also seen trying to access social networks despite terms and conditions still prohibiting users below 13 years.


One-in-three Android device users were also sending inappropriate text messages to their peer circle, while 71 per cent of desktop users are using their devices to browse websites, Bitdefender says.

Access to inappropriate content

Google, Twitter and Wikipedia are some of the most visited sites in schools, but under-aged children are also clearly interested in instant messaging (a third of users aged between 8-9 years), hacking-related material, gambling, videos, 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 devices to prevent outrageous credit-card bills coming from accidental in-app purchases. A similar AppLock option has been launched in third party apps. One example is 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 years (majority being male students).

Distraction and сheating

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 while giving their exams. Most of them were found to be searching for things under three categories: business (17.8%), social sites (11.3% ) 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 will be stolen as well. To reduce the threat of theft, security firms like Bitdefender and others have created mobile security solutions with features that include anti-theft functions. Such features can help owner find their phones, lock it and then wipe the data from the device.

Taking into account these manifold security and privacy risks of your kids, what is your opinion on BYOD being introduced in schools?