Dr James Huntington's picture

Safeguarding-aware Tablets vs Open Devices: An Important Issue in Early Years

As you’re probably aware there are guidelines and policies in place to ensure that mobile devices are not used in early years settings. The reason for this is to prevent the intentional or unintentional distribution of children’s data. 

It is a safeguarding best-practice for early years settings to restrict mobile devices and cameras due to fears around sharing images; it would be very easy to share an image of a child on a social network, such as Facebook, Twitter, email or other forms of online communications, via a mobile phone or tablet. To avoid this many managers implement policies to restrict the use of open devices in their settings, sometimes mobile phones have to be locked away during the day etc.

You may have heard fairly recently that a nursery that was previously rated as outstanding has been downgraded to inadequate after staff photographed children on their mobiles and sent the pictures to parents. Whilst there was a photo policy in place, signed by parents, meaning they only receive pictures of their own children, the use of open devices in the setting poses a risk to children’s information, data and images.

Furthermore, many settings begin using open devices, such as iPads and mobile phones in the rooms to record observations as part of children’s learning journeys to track their progression. These devices are likely to still have access to applications that allow sharing of images and videos making it easy for staff to do so, and therfore counteracting the nurseries priorties for children's safety. It also allows the productivity of the staff to drop. With a range of applications available on open devices, staff may become distracted during quiet times or nap times where they access these application. This may be detrimental to the setting and could pose a risk to the children’s education and well-being, as well as staff motivations and role.

What options are available for my setting?

When it comes to online and digital learning journeys, motivating staff and engaging parents make sure you choose a provider that takes safeguarding seriously and is one of the company’s top priorities. LearningBook uses locked-down SmartTablets only, which cannot be used to access Internet browsers, social media, emails or other applications and ensures that no images can be taken outside of the learning journey or uploaded to anywhere outside of your control. All observations can only be uploaded to a secure Administration Portal for staff and a password protected Parent Portal for parents to view and comment on.

Practitioners and managers enjoy all the benefits technology brings with none of the fears!

Dr James Huntington's picture

Dr James Huntington - Director

James is the Founder and Managing Director at LearningBook. His background in Computer Science and Education help lay the foundation for LearningBook to become one of the UK's first Digital Learning Journey Companies.