Digital technology: Safe and responsible use in schools
This guide provides principals and teachers with the information to act confidently and in the best interests of students with regard to digital technology.
Education is changing. Digital technologies are everywhere and they are impacting what, where, how and why students learn – and who they learn from. Many schools are using digital technologies like the internet, laptops and tablets to quickly, easily and cost effectively connect students with the huge range of digital services and resources.
However, the many benefits of learning with digital technologies are accompanied by some challenges and potential risks for students and schools.
These ‘digital challenges’ are real and present a dilemma to schools seeking to use digital technology to enhance student learning.
Digital challenges can be broadly categorised as:
Cybersafety involves conduct or behavioural concerns.
Examples include cyberbullying, smear campaigns, accessing inappropriate content, creating spoof websites or sexting.
Cybercrime involves illegal activity.
Examples include sexual offending, accessing objectionable content or online fraud.
Cybersecurity involves unauthorised access or attacks on a computer system.
Examples include hacking into someone’s social media service account, launching a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack or loading malware onto a laptop.
Strategies for digital challenges
In general, preventative approaches that rely on technical or other protections simply do not work. These methods have a role but must be balanced with strategies that promote:
- development of skills and knowledge for safe and responsible use of digital technology
- opportunities for students to be involved in decisions about the management of digital technology at the school
- development of a pro-social culture of digital technology use, and
- cooperation of the whole community in preventing and responding to incidents.
The ultimate goal is to ensure the online safety of all students.
The purpose of this guide is to support schools in the management of safe and responsible use of digital technology for learning.
It is written within the context of:
- sections 106 to 114 of the Education and Training Act 2020
- the Education (Surrender, Retention, and Search) Rules 2013, and
- the guidelines for the surrender and retention of property and searches.
The aim is to provide principals and teachers with the information to act confidently and in the best interests of students with regard to digital technology.
This guide provides information about the safe and responsible use and management of digital technology for school boards, principals and staff.
It outlines key aspects of the context surrounding the effective management of digital technology in schools and kura. The explanations provided in this guide have been written to be as accessible as possible to a non-technical audience.
If you have any further questions arising from this guide, we recommend you contact NetSafe or the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) for advice and guidance.
They may be able to provide more detailed information about incident response and technical issues.
0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723) or firstname.lastname@example.org
0800 782 435 or NZSTA website
We are indebted to Netsafe, who led the development of this guide on behalf of the online safety advisory group (OSAG).
In particular, we wish to acknowledge Netsafe’s consistent focus on the positive role that safe and responsible use of digital technology can have in student learning while providing practical advice on a range of complex issues that are challenging New Zealand schools and kura.
In addition, we are grateful for feedback from:
- Ministry of Justice
- New Zealand Police
- Education Review Office
- Post-Primary Teachers’ Association
- Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand
- Office of Children’s Commissioner
- New Zealand Association of Intermediate and Middle Schooling
- New Zealand Principals’ Federation
- New Zealand Trustees Association
- Network for Learning (N4L)
We also like to note the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s contribution and feedback.
This guide draws upon a range of reports, research articles and other resources. We acknowledge the contribution these materials and their authors make to this guide. References and links to these resources have been included in the appendices section.
Online safety advisory group
Patrick Walsh, SPANZ (Chair)
David Rutherford, HRC
Brian Coffey, MOE
Jan Breakwell, MOE
Phil Harding, NZPF
Denise Torrey, NZPF
Jenna Woolley, N4L
Lawrie Stewart, NZ Police
Lorraine Kerr, NZSTA
Malcolm Luey, MOJ
Martin Henry, PPTA
Neil Melhuish, Netsafe
Roly Hermans, NZ Police
Russell Wills, OCC
Paul Daley, SPANZ
Sandy Pasley, SPANZ
Stephanie Greaney, ERO
Suzanne Townsend, HRC
Wendy Esera, NZAIMS
Asad Abdullahi, MOE