Balancing act: Kids and take-home technology

CLEVELAND, OH (CNN) - The way kids learn and do homework is becoming more digital by the day. Schools are spending a significant amount of money purchasing and leasing laptops and iPads that students keep for the entire year and can take home.

While there are many benefits to take home technology, there are also challenges. One is the financial responsibility of upkeep. Another challenge educators and cyber security experts agree can be dicier is protecting students and their private information.

"It used to be that we had to worry about maybe some danger down the street or the walk home, but now a criminal or somebody that wants to do harm can be sitting half way around the world and go right into your kid's room because the computer is there," said Alex Hammerstone, a cyber security expert with IT solutions company TrustedSEC.

TrustedSEC has hundreds of clients including schools. Hammerstone said districts utilize secured, password protected networks which should be in place at students' homes as well.

Districts also blacklist certain websites and use filtering software to block inappropriate material. But, Hammerstone wanted those systems aren't foolproof.

"If you think that you can beat these kids at their own game- you're probably going to lose," Hammerstone said. "They can use what's called proxies. So, they go out and go through a server so the school can't see where they're going. Schools will tell you they block all the proxy sites, but they're popping up more and more every day."

Hammerstone said no amount of software or technology can replace old fashion monitoring by parents and guardians. He said it's a conversation that's more important than ever to have with children given the amount of private information that's often easily given up.

"One of the things is just knowing that what you put on the internet never goes away," Hammerstone said. "So it's really just making sure you talk to your kids… what is this you're doing? (Talk about) what's right and wrong and explaining the consequences."

Hammerstone said it's important for kids to never share their passwords, download material they aren't sure of or give out personal information. offers other tips for families to discuss and practice.

In terms of student data and privacy, schools should be following federal law which calls for schools to get permission from parents or guardians before publishing student work online.

Documents, including email, could be subject to public records disclosure laws. Districts also reserve the right to monitor, review and store data that can be turned over to law enforcement if called upon.

Copyright 2017 WOIO. All rights reserved.