Parents tired of paying for pricy technology for their kids

Help sought for Coquitlam district parents whose kids are required to bring devices to school for learning

Parents facing sticker shock when faced with purchasing a laptop or tablet for their School District 43 student won’t get any buying advice or special deals.

And that leaves many parents fending off kids’ demands for $1,500 MacBooks on their own.

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“It’s our generation that needs the tech support,” said Marvin Klassen, chair of the District Parent Advisory Council.

Klassen was presenting to SD43 trustees during a budget meeting Tuesday, April 16, listing among parents’ concerns the cost of technology and the need for more support around the growing issue.

Klassen said kids as young as 14 and 15 are carrying around laptops, tablets and phones costing as much as $1,000 or more, creating a financial burden as well as stress for parents who don’t know the best device to buy.

“That’s a lot of money parents are expected to pay to support our families,” Klassen noted.

He said parents are asking for equipment standards and even purchase plans through their school to keep costs down.

Students also need more education about privacy, especially issues around cyber security, Klassen suggested.

However, he was told SD43 will provide devices to students who can’t afford them, if they ask.

The district has also upgraded 3,000 computers and 1,000 iPads a year for school use.

But parents who simply want guidance through the establishment of a technology standard or options to purchase through school partnerships are on their own.

As many as 17 SD43 schools now require students to bring devices to school for learning.

Stephen Whiffin, director of instruction, also said students are already learning how to be smart about technology in a required Grade 10 digital literacy course, as well as through various introductory courses on technology in middle school.

However, he admitted that keeping up with the changes in technology is an effort and even schools have to constantly update the digital literacy education for students because it’s a “constantly moving target.”

As for cyber security, Whiffin said the district takes security extremely seriously, and has a robust program to keep student information safe.

However, scammers and cyber criminals are a constant threat, forcing the district to constantly update its protocols and educate staff so they don’t fall victim to cybercrime.

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