Remember when we walked barefoot, uphill both ways, sharing a coat in a blizzard to get to school? Apparently, we didn’t suffer at all compared to our kids and this new online learning model. There’s no denying that back to school will look very different this year. Your children will be facing a few challenges with this new teaching model, and while they are safe from blizzards and hills, back-to-school-tech can make life a lot easier for them.
Integris has scoured the internet looking for ways to make the school year a successful one for parents and kids alike. Here are seven back to school tech tips and gadgets we’ve found to ease the stress and increase the learning.
Back-to-School Tech Tips #1: Blue-Light/Blue-Screen Glasses
It’s bad enough your kids are on their devices ten hours a day updating Instagram and playing Call of Duty. Now, we can add eight hours of school to their screen time.
Remember when your parents told you to sit eight feet back from TV or you’d damage your eyes? It turns out that father DID know best. According to the Vision Council, 59% of digital screen users report eye strain with symptoms including:
- Reduced attention span
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Eye strain, dry or irritated eyes
Digital eye strain can occur after only two hours on devices. That’s hardly enough time to build a house in Minecraft, and that’s before (or after) eight hours of device enabled schoolwork.
Luckily, there’s a back-to-school tech for that.
The solution: Blue-light or blue-screen glasses block UV light and relieve digital eye strain.
We like: This LivHo 2 pack Light Blocking Glasses pack is rated 4.3 stars, is competitively priced, and has two per pack so you can keep a pair for yourself.
Other ideas: On top of blue-light glasses, you can help your child avoid eyestrain by encouraging him to:
- Take Breaks
- Keep an arm’s length away from a digital screen
- Reduce glare on the screen by dimming lights
- Increase the text size on devices
Back-to-School Tech Tips #2: Wi-Fi Booster
Why huddle around the router when you could turn your entire home into a signal-friendly space? A Wi-Fi signal extender allows a larger range of connectivity for devices so you and your child aren’t limited to one corner of the house that “gets a really good signal.”
You’d be amazed at the things that can affect your Wi-Fi signal, such as:
- Physical obstructions: You may like hiding your router but placing it behind a large object can cloud your signal. Even construction materials such as concrete within your walls can block a Wi-Fi signal.
- Separate wireless networks: Multiple wireless networks can interfere with Wi-Fi signals. You can streamline multiple wireless networks into one; if you need to have different levels of access for the routers, you can set up guest networks with different names on the same router.
- Radios and baby monitors: Jr’s wireless baby monitor may be interfering with your Wi-Fi signal because they tend to be on the same frequency band as the Wi-Fi.
- Water: If the Wi-Fi signal must pass through an aquarium or hydronic water heating system, the signal may be weaker.
The solution: Luckily, Wi-Fi boosters will save the day.
We like: The SETEK Superboost WiFi Extender Signal Booster. It features long range coverage and can handle up to 15 devices. It is LAN/Ethernet compatible and has two external antennas to extend your Wi-Fi signal throughout your home. Rated 4.4 stars, this model plugs into any wall outlet and comes in white or black.
Other Ideas: Set your router free. Don’t hide it behind obstructions, and if it is locked away in a dark corner of the home, consider relocating it somewhere more central.
Back-to-School Tech Tips #3: Time Management Apps
Your student will find it hard to beat distractions and stick to work. Being in an unorganized school scenario means it is far too easy for them to let some schoolwork slip through the cracks, and many will find prioritizing hard to do.
The Solution: Time management apps are a great way for them to stay on top of schoolwork and chores.
We Like: Habitica is a 4.4 star-rated app that treats tasks and chores like a role-playing game. Students can create a custom avatar then Check off tasks to level up the avatar, unlocking features such as pets, armor, skills, and quests. Students can interact with other students to fight monsters and will receive in-game rewards and level ups for completed tasks.
Other Ideas: Encourage students to write a to-do list in a notebook at the end of every class, or even record key concepts and work to review later.
Back-to-School Tech Tips #4: Noise Cancelling Earphones/Headset
Your household can’t stop functioning just because your student is online. Babies will cry, dogs will bark, and whatever is on the TV in the next room will be far more exciting than social studies.
The Solution: A sound canceling headset will keep your student focused on his work instead of distractions from his or her environment.
We Like: Riwbox XBT-80 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones. Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars, these headphones are compatible with all blue tooth devices and feature a built-in microphone. Wireless and sleek, these are proof that you don’t need to break the bank for noise cancelling headphones.
If your student isn’t all about the boxy headset life, Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Boltune Bluetooth Earbuds have a built-in microphone and are an affordable option to pricier models. These are quick charging, priced under $40, and rated 4.5 stars.
Other Ideas: While an office may be the best choice for your student, it’s not always a viable option with other family members working from home as well. If an office isn’t possible, set your student up in a corner of the room facing away from activity, and if necessary, consider a stylish mobile partition to keep them focused on their screens.
Back-to-School Tech Tip #5: Keyboard Cleaner
Your child will be drinking and eating at her keyboard, so you might as well be prepared. Dust, dirt, and crumbs can damage delicate keyboards, so keeping them clean is a must. How do you convince kids that routine cleaning of their laptop and PC keyboards is necessary? Make it fun to do.
The Solution: Keyboard Cleaner Putty
We Like: BEDEE Keyboard Cleaner Gel/Putty because it’s not only effective, it’s non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and it’s fun and safe for the kids to use. This cyber cleaning putty is rated 4.3 out of 5 stars, and with five-piece, multi-colored cleaning gel units plus a storage case included, it’s a lot of goo for your money.
Other Ideas: You can find compressed air cans in any office supply store to blow dust and crumbs out of keyboards and hard-drive vents, and, if germs are a concern, you can sanitize the keyboard between uses with an inexpensive UV wand.
Back-to-School Tech Tips #6: Snip the Wire
Your students may have a hard-enough time balancing books and electronics on their overcrowded desks, much less dealing with wires. Keyboard and mouse wires are so “last year.”
The solution: Wireless mouse and keyboard combos
We Like: The Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse, rated at 4.5 out of five stars. It boasts a long battery life and a price tag of $25.
Other ideas: If wireless solutions aren’t in your student’s future, use twist-ties from bread wrappers to organize the wires and lift the excess out of the way. You can also consider a desk organizer shelf to maximize limited space.
Back-to-School Tech Tips #7: Ergonomics
No, ergonomics isn’t a new subject your student is learning about in school. It is a movement towards maximum comfort and efficiency in the design of office furniture. Purchasing ergonomic chairs or desks is a great way to correct posture and eliminate much of the exhaustion and stiffness we tend to get after sitting in front of computers for hours. While ergonomic furniture is a benefit, it can be very costly to equip your student with ergonomically designed pieces.
The solution: Turn your existing chairs into ergonomically friendly furniture.
We Like: Plixio Gel Seat Cushion Memory Foam Chair Pillow with Cooling Gel because it provides orthopedic support to encourage good posture. The cover is machine washable, and the gel provides cooling support during those long school sessions. This cushion is 4.6 out of five and affordably priced.
Other Ideas: Encourage your student to get up and stretch between class sessions, and to take a walk during his lunch break. You can purchase cushions for your office chair backs as well to keep him sitting straight.
These Back-to-School Tech Tips Will Help Parents, Too
These back-to-school tech tips will keep your students at the head of their class, and we’re willing to bet you want them for your own remote office set up, too.
Stay tuned for more back-to-school tech updates, as well as student online safety tips and trends for parents and students working remotely.