Eighth-grade students should have the same option as high school students to take their personal laptops to school. This year, dozens of eighth graders have had struggles with their laptops, most of which are laptops breaking with students claiming to not doing any harm to them. Complications that follow the breaking of laptops are students being given loaners that don’t connect to other school devices, missing work that was lost from their old laptops, and more. Middle schoolers cannot take their laptops to school because being provided with laptops is part of the designated middle school structure. Still, as the eldest of the middle school, eighth-grade students are mature enough to make their own decisions about managing their technology while complying with middle school rules and standards.
Eighth-grader Edith Labriola was one of the almost fifty students in the Middle School that found themselves with a broken laptop after claiming to contribute no damage to the school-provided device. She said, “I would bring my laptop into school if I were to be given the option as I would feel less stressed about handling it all the time. Of course, I would still treat it with respect, but I would not be so worried about what could happen to the school’s property at all times. When I broke my laptop, there was a crack in the screen, and I still don’t know how it got there. Teachers treated this as an extreme issue for which I was at fault, making me feel guilty about something I barely knew anything about.”
The school’s technology rules are primarily implemented for safety and protocol reasons. If eighth-graders were allowed to use their home technology at school, they should be granted access to the same wifi as high schoolers. Administrators prefer middle schoolers to use technology that they know is safe while students learn to be independent. In their final year of middle school, eighth-graders are already learning to experiment with their responsibilities. Technology will always be essential in their learning, meaning that it should be something they feel comfortable using without worrying at all times.
Individuals may argue that students bringing home technology to school risks the safety and security of ASL data. Many of these risks may include students going on non-school-appropriate websites during class time, having too much access to school data on a home device, or not having the same software downloaded on their laptops that others in their classes using school-provided laptops may have. The list of counterarguments may be long, but if ninth-graders (who are just one year older than eighth-graders) are able to use their laptops without these faults, why should they be any safer than eighth-graders?
Mr. Nadjib Aktouf is the head of technology. He said, “It is important for us (teachers) to create a structure for middle school students, and one of the ways that we create this is by providing laptops and making sure that laptops are set up in a way that they are safe for students to use. ”
Others may argue that there are more complications if eighth-graders were to be provided with the home laptop option, such as students needing to bring in suitable laptops. Similarly to high school students, there should be guidelines that all students and families would read and agree with before access is granted for them to take their home laptops to school for work. The system has worked for high schoolers, meaning there should be no fault for the students who are just a year younger, if not the same age as the youngest of the high school. If a middle school student fails to comply with the technology agreements, it will make sense for administrators to take away their home technology privileges.
Middle school is a time for students to thrive and grow, and as the leaders of the middle school, eighth-graders should be granted the privilege of taking their home laptops to school if that aligns with their family values and personal needs.