It's time for back to school! Are you sure you're ready? - U.S. Cellular #BloggerBrigade


When I was a kid, it sure seemed like summer just flew by. Giving up the freedom to be out and about, playing and enjoying the great outdoors wasn’t something any kid looked forward to. Memorial Day to Labor Day was pretty much the benchmark. Yet here we are in mid-August and my kids have already been in school for over a week. Summers are much shorter for them than they were when I was their age. My kids aren’t too happy but as a parent, I’m ready for the continuity to the schedule that the school year brings. Being prepared for school means far more than just stocking up on school supplies; it means adjusting sleep schedules, planning for dinners and accommodating extra-curricular activities.

Spoke on a luncheon panel hosted by U.S. Cellular during BlogHer14. We covered mobile manners, age for first phone and more. - #BloggerBrigade

Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel with a few other bloggers at a luncheon hosted by U.S. Cellular during the BlogHer conference. We discussed a variety of topics including when to get a child their first phone, responsibility and mobile etiquette. One of the things I feel pretty strongly about is that kids aren’t living in the same world that I did as a kid. It’s difficult to find a pay phone and kids have more opportunities to be involved than was available when I was a kid. That schedule continuity that the school year brings is easier because we’ve provided them with the tools they need – and that we need.

If the kids are old (and responsible) enough to be dropped off for activities, they're ready for a phone! - #BloggerBrigade U.S. Cellular

As the kids get older, we’re starting to realize the importance of having them connected. They’re involved in extra-curricular activities where I’m not a volunteer, coach or parent chaperone. Like many other parents, I drop the girls off and come pick them up later. There have been situations where traffic has prevented me from arriving on time and I’m able to connect with them and let them know. Just yesterday, the kids’ bus broke down on the way home and they were able to notify me. I wasn’t worrying about where they were or why they were late.

Aside from the benefit of connecting with the kids on the go, we see technology integrated into their schools more each year. The kids utilize Google Docs on a daily basis for their homework. While the classrooms offer PCs for use, most students opt to utilize the classroom iPads. Students are even allowed to bring an iPad or iPhone from home to use during class. This year, even our lunch menu is provided via an app! Teachers are opting for services like Skype and DropBox as tools in their teaching arsenal. Skype is being used to digitally bring guest speakers into the classroom or take students on virtual field trips. DropBox gives them the ability to share content from anywhere via the cloud service. Some schools have moved completely to tablet textbooks while others are using apps like Notability for taking notes, sketching ideas and collaborating on projects.

While some schools have budgeted for these kinds of expenses, others are relying on donors to help bridge the gap. I’ve personally contributed to DonorsChoose in the past and find it an excellent way to support programs or projects I believe it. I recently learned that U.S. Cellular, a company I’m an ambassador for, is donating $1 million to fund teacher classrooms through Calling All Teachers. They encourage teachers to post their projects on for potential funding. U.S Cellular has funded more than 4,500 classroom projects to date and doesn’t limit their selection to projects involving technology. They’ve supported art equipment and science experiments as well! If you know a teacher who could use assistance funding a project (or should I say “If you know a teacher” since every teacher needs help funding projects) have them check out this worthwhile promotion.

Proud member of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade! - SahmReviews.comAs difficult as it is for many parents to recognize, having technology (whether an iPhone5S, Galaxy S5, or even a tablet) is as important to their child’s education as using a calculator or computer was to my generation. With guidance provided by parents through a Parent Child Agreement, students as young as 10 or 11 can certainly learn the responsibility of a mobile device. And parents can reap the benefits of connected kids.

When preparing for back to school, be sure to keep in mind the big picture and the importance that technology plays in it.

How have your school districts integrated technology into the classrooms?

20 thoughts on “Back to School for the Mobile Generation

  1. I know that was a weight off to have them let you know the bus broke down!! How lucky that they get to ride together too. I love the idea of being able to keep in touch with the kids, there are many instances where it could/would come in handy.

  2. Good point. When I was growing up, the rule was always just “no technology for you until you turn thirteen”. The result was a lot of worry on my parents’ part when I was late because of a busted bus tire.

  3. My oldest is only 6 so he is not getting a phone just yet. Once he is older and more responsible he will get a phone. He is not ready for it!

  4. I had to give my 12 year-old a phone because he commutes and it was a great way to stay connected! My son’s school is introducing tablets next year and my son is excited it about it.

  5. My oldest daughter has a cell phone because she is involved in so many things afterschool. I needed a way for her to be able to tell me when she needed a ride, ect. Her phone is a basic phone with text and voice only. We blocked the internet from her phone so that we didn’t have to closely monitor her internet usage too.

  6. While technology is important—there will always be those ones who will push….My daughters school allows phones only during lunch brake other wise they are to be kept in lockers. If staff see’s it its taken to the office and only a parent can retrieve it. I know our school has all the scheduled info online and my daughter has had a skype special speaker too—it really is a good thing!

  7. my 11 year old has a smartphone and it is great. i can get a hold of her anytime i need. She is in so many activities that it’s essential for us. We do have a rule that she doesn’t take it out of her purse or bag during the school day or it will be given to her teacher and returned at the end of the day.

  8. More and more the schools are bringing in more technology. In many ways it is a plus I think as long a they are watched. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Its amazing how technology has reshaped our world, our schools, our children, and ourselves. They’ve integrated into our lives so seamlessly. Almost every school in our district and in the districts where my friends teach have only iPads to teach from. They have eliminated anything requiring pencils and papers. All reading material in on the iPad. Yet despite all the monitoring and locking up of these items, the kids are so smart at Jailbreaking, they can access FB, Twitter, Instagram, and all sorts of media. The schools have to recollect all the iPads and reset and recode the units. Talk about a set back in teaching! The schools are at a precipice of what to do.

    I maybe the one person in the whole wide world that thinks iPad or individual computers units is deteriorating our communities. I see the benefit with our children: they’re definitely more tech savvy and computer literate. They don’t suffer from having to carry all their books home like we had too. Yet many of them can’t sign a signature on a check, then can barely print, what about knowledge are a index in a few remaining libraries, and conversations without text messages? How often does the American Family actually have a conversation where a cell phone, computer, or other device is binging or tinging or vibrating about a new email or text or phone call? Technology is a double edged sword. This is my opinion and I didn’t mean to offend anyone.

  10. This is certainly a different time from when I grew up! There was no technology back then. If I had children in this day and age I would most certainly get them at least a simple cell to keep in touch just in case! I do like that Cellular One is doing this for the teachers and ultimately the children as well.

  11. I agree! Summers used to fly away when I was a kid. School would always start too soon!
    The technology craze has not reached Ecuador yet. I know that in Finland students use iPads in classroom and there are many classes taught in the computer lab. I try to teach my son to use the devices here at home. It’s like learning to read today, in my opinion. Something you must know to be able to learn and do everything else.

  12. I remember summer flying by – oh wait I still feel the same – I love being outdoors in the mountains and having the extra space of the decks and walking/jogging…then fall comes in cooling it all down and I feel like a kid stuck back in school 🙂

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