Should Students Be Allowed to Use Their Personal Computers?

Pictured is both a school computer and a personal laptop. On the left is an example of a personal laptop such as a MacBook. On the right is an example of one of the school computers that are provided to students. (Liz Ryklin/ AITE Edge)

A huge benefit at AITE, that in years past has been different from other schools in Stamford, is that AITE provides students with a Dell laptop yearly. This puts learning at AITE on another level. For students who do not own their own laptops, being provided with one helps tremendously. However, for students who have their own laptops, using separate computers is a hassle. Having all of your work on one computer during school hours and then having to switch to your personal computer when you get home can be stressful and unnecessary.

 AITE junior Logan Dahl sees many benefits to using a personal computer. “Sometimes it is easier for students to operate their own laptop rather than the school laptop,” said Dahl. If someone has the choice to be able to use something they are used to and comfortable with, then they will likely choose to do so. “People have to pay a fee to use the school computer. If someone had their own laptop why should they have to pay a pretty big fee for just another computer?” said junior Joseph Colon. A lot of students at AITE would most likely agree with this statement. If a student has their own personal computer, it doesn’t seem to make sense to require them to pay for a school laptop that provides no purpose other than taking up space.

To understand what students at AITE thought about these computer regulations, a form was sent to the student body with 3 questions on it. When asked if students prefer their personal computers to their school computers 47 out of 76 said they preferred to use their personal computer while the other 29 preferred the school computers. Then asked if they understood why students aren’t allowed to use their own computers, 41 of out 76 said yes and the other 35 said no. When asked why students aren’t allowed to use their own computers, students had a variety of thoughts. Responses included: “I think we only use school computers at school because they can see what you do on the laptop, but on a personal laptop they can’t see,” “Because it can be distracting,” “For network safety,” and “I think this is just to place control over websites being accessed by students.” On paper, these seem to be accurate, and at the least very good guesses. According to Principal Tina Rivera, however, there is a lot more to the story than students really understand. 

“This isn’t a new policy… Last year was the first time students were allowed to use their own laptops because there weren’t enough devices for everyone… Why the district didn’t let students bring their own laptops in the past is because it compromises network security,” said Rivera. The safety of the students at AITE is very important, and this includes their cyber safety. AITE provides laptops to the school that block websites that can be easily hacked. The main reason AITE does not allow students to bring their personal laptop is because their laptops don’t have certain safety features that the school laptops have. If one person brings their personal laptop that has been hacked and is then brought on to the school’s network, then the school’s network is at risk for a cyber attack. If this happens, personal information about students, teachers, and other staff are at a high risk of being leaked.

AITE wants everyone in the school to feel safe and protected, not only physically but online, as well. To ensure this, AITE follows the state of Connecticut’s rule on laptop and cyber safety. This rule is that all students should be provided with a school laptop and use that laptop on school grounds. 

In my opinion yes, school laptops do help prevent certain things such as cyber attacks, however they do not fully prevent it. Networks are usually safe, but they aren’t invincible and still can fall victim to cybersecurity attacks. I believe that instead of restricting students from using their own laptops, they should focus more on protecting the network and making sure it’s as highly protected as it can be, especially since AITE is a technology school.