Empowering Kids with Technology
Arisant is proud to provide managed services for our client, Kajeet. In this article, find out how Kajeet is changing the way parents balance their child’s desire for a smart phone with a parent’s need for safety and secure access to school resources.
Kids love smartphones, and it seems like they’re getting them at younger ages all the time. Even David Taylor, senior vice president of marketing & sales at Kajeet, is sometimes taken aback.
“I think most parents try to hold off and not get their kids a phone too young,” he says. “But the cutoff does seem to be getting younger.” An acquaintance’s daughter, he said, wanted only one thing for her eighth birthday: an iPhone. Why? “Because all her friends have them.”
Of course, for most families, it’s not peer pressure, but life pressure that makes a cell phone a handy tool. For busy parents, it’s great to be able to text one kid at baseball practice when you’re waiting for the other kid at gymnastics. But sometimes, parents forget that this convenience also comes with safety issues.
Keeping it fun, keeping it safe
“Today when every kid has a smartphone, every kid can also be exposed to dangers such as cyberbullying, whether it’s through social media abuse or through harassing texts or calls,” Taylor explains. Parents might also want to prevent kids from accidentally accessing websites with inappropriate content. “That doesn’t just mean ‘adult’ content,” says Taylor. “There is a lot of information that just isn’t made for young kids.”
“Another concern is screen time,” he adds. “Kids don’t usually know how much screen time is too much.” Kajeet’s settings help parents control and limit the exposure of their kids to all these concerns and more. The company operates on a three-week update cycle, constantly tracking new websites, filtering new threats, and responding to parent requests for features.
Parental involvement is at the heart of the safety platform. Taylor emphasizes, “The platform is about shared responsibility.” So the company is continually working to meet the needs of parents, making the platform easy to implement and manage. This December, Kajeet is looking forward to the release of a mobile app, which will give parents the ability to personally manage their safety controls any time.
Eliminating the Digital Divide
With the success of its safe, affordable phone service, Kajeet’s founders looked to extend their operation to schools. Starting with a service that provided safe Internet access in schools, the company today has evolved a revolutionary solution for a bigger problem: the Digital Divide.
Taylor explains, “School districts are rapidly implementing mobile device programs. They give devices to students to use in class, then ask students to do their homework on them. That’s great in theory but students who don’t have access to Internet or broadband at home are at high risk for falling behind.”
It’s called the Digital Divide, a vast chasm between haves and have-nots, and it’s not a small problem. Taylor notes that across the country, an average of 30% of students don’t have Internet access at home, and in more economically disadvantaged areas, that number is as high as 80%. “It’s affecting testing and even graduation rates in some districts. Technology experts in education have cited this as the No. 1 technology issue because instead of leveling the playing field, it’s inadvertently creating a bigger gap.”
Kajeet has created SmartSpot™, a portable device that enables mobile, filtered high-speed Internet access so that school districts can provide safe, off-campus mobile broadband for students who don’t have Internet access at home.
The company is already seeing tremendous interest from early adopter districts, but expects that the demand will grow as schools and communities work to meet the requirements of the ConnectEd program. The presidential initiative aims to provide Internet access in 99% of schools and libraries. But as it moves forward, Taylor says, schools will also realize the need for better access to connectivity off-campus.
“It’s an exciting time to be part of this organization because our group is really galvanized by our mission. It’s really an issue of equal access that can impact the growth of an entire community,” says Taylor.