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. 

Relevant characteristics of digital information

Digital information is very different from its physical counterpart. Physical information has a fixed position in place and time. This is not the case with digital information, which can be:

  • rapidly duplicated and easily distributed, e.g. a message posted via social media is reposted elsewhere by friends or an email sent to a list of recipients within a very short timeframe
  • stored in multiple locations, e.g. a photo can be stored simultaneously on a laptop, a smartphone and in the Cloud
  • created and communicated automatically, e.g. a smartphone can synchronise emails with another device or an online service
  • stored with varying levels of 'discoverability', e.g. image files that can only be accessed using a password or other method of authentication.

  • Digital information can be communicated rapidly
    • The 'viral' nature of digital communication enables information to spread rapidly and reach a wide audience. This can make it very difficult to know who has received the information or how it will spread more. It also requires any action to minimise harm that could be caused by this communication to be taken quickly.

  • Digital information is hard to permanently delete
    • Once digital information or items are created, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to permanently delete all copies. For example, digital information can be:

      • Stored on a range of digital devices such as smartphones, laptops and internet servers as it is communicated. For example an email or chat message.copied and communicated automatically or to a schedule making it difficult to know what information is stored where. For example, a smartphone automatically synchronising stored information with a laptop computer or to the 'Cloud'.
      • Retrieved or restored from the archive or trash after deletion using easily accessible tools.
      • Temporarily stored on a device. For example, a device will download information to display a website and then can delete it when the web browser is closed.
  • Digital information can be remotely accessed
    • Typically, transmitting digital devices such as smartphones or laptops can be accessed remotely via another internet connection. Similarly, the content of a website can be remotely accessed and edited. Example of actions that can be carried out remotely include:

      • deleting, adding or editing information stored on a digital device or web page
      • accessing a device's location services to find its specific location, or
      • turning on a device's web camera and using it to record.