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. 

Removing problematic digital information

  • Delete only when it is appropriate
    • Prompt action can help to prevent problematic content spreading and can be effective approach in reducing any distress or harm that may be caused. Responding quickly is a key factor in achieving a positive outcome. However, digital information can only be deleted with complete confidence if all copies are removed and cannot be restored or accessed from another source. A request for digital information to be deleted should only be made with:

      • a clear understanding of what this action is aiming to achieve and its likely success
      • the knowledge that this action could break or add the school to the chain of evidence.

      Assessing whether to request deletion of digital information involves asking questions such as:

      • What is the problem we are trying to solve? Will this action achieve the required result? What other courses of action could help to solve this problem?
      • Is the digital information unlawful or inappropriate? Will the information be needed later as evidence, for example, to discuss with parents, senior management or the police?
      • What type of digital information is causing the problem? Is it an image, movie or text?
      • Who owns the information? Who has access to it?
      • Does a third party need to facilitate deletion of the information, for example, a social media service provider?
      • Is external advice needed from NetSafe on the appropriateness and likely success of the request for deletion?

      If deletion is the appropriate response:

      • Is the device connected to the internet? Has the information already been communicated? If so, how and where?
      • Where is the information stored? Is it on a device or is it website content? Is a password required to access the information?
      • How many other locations might it need to be deleted from? Are they accessible?
      • What assurances are there that the item is deleted and cannot be restored later?
      • Is external advice needed from NetSafe to assist in facilitating the uncontested removal of online content?
  • Removing problematic content from social media and other online services
    • Increasingly, incidents challenging schools involve content or communications that have been uploaded to a social media or other online service. These can be inappropriate or potentially unlawful. The removal of this content can have an immediate and positive impact on those targeted. In the majority of incidents, the target may already know the perpetrator. This means that there is a high probability that the identity of the perpetrator is discoverable. If their identity is known, the person who posted it could be asked to remove the content.

      The majority of social media and online service providers are located overseas and not subject to New Zealand law. But, they can remove content from their services on the basis of whether or not it has breached their terms and conditions. Schools can contact providers directly to request content removal by using a service’s reporting functions. However, before doing so, schools should contact NetSafe for advice on the best course of action.

      NetSafe has:

      • expertise in resolving incidents involving inappropriate or unlawful online content and communications
      • specialist knowledge of social media services’ terms and conditions
      • established working relationships with many of the leading social media and other online service providers.

      NetSafe can advise schools on the likely success of content removal requests and, where appropriate, can act as an intermediary to facilitate such requests. This can usually be achieved in much shorter timeframes than schools can achieve through a direct request to the service provider.