Getting parents plugged in to classroom technology

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COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - School is getting back in session this week and parents have to worry about more than just stocking up school supplies for their children. Technolgy upgrades in schools may leave some parents and students unplugged.

Textbooks are starting to be distributed digitally, with some schools in South Carolina and nationwide using tablets instead of textbooks.

"It's all cool stuff. But, what I'm starting to see with a lot of parents is terror, just absolute terror," says WACH Fox technology correspondent Stephen Miano of That Computer Store in Irmo. "It's no longer going to be the dog ate my homework. It's going to be my battery ran dead."

Another interesting pilot program nationwide is the use of netbooks, tablets, or smartphones as teaching and learning tools. They are also being used for communication between students and teachers. Experts say it puts a wealth of learning apps at students' fingertips, but warn the devices shouldn't be used as toys.

Miano, who has a young daughter going back to school this week, says parents and school officials need to be aware of the risks involved, as they would be with any internet-connected technology.

"It's a really positive move, a shift towards using technology," says Miano. "But, we need to watch our kids. We need to make sure that our kids are responsible with this stuff and that parents are prepared."

Miano urges parents to interact with their children and teachers, and points out it is better to be involved by asking questions, rather than fear any technology upgrades in the classroom.

There's also a learning curve for teachers with something as simple as touch technology smart boards which are replacing the conventional chalkboard in classrooms.

"Some of the teachers I know it's scary for them," says Miano. "So everyone needs to be involved. Parents need to be a part of this. They need to be interested in the technology even if they don't necessarily understand everything."