Acceptable Use Policy
Network Acceptable Use Guidelines
What Should Be in Your Acceptable Use
Beyond committing yourself to integrating
Internet technology into your school's curriculum, the most
important thing you can do is to develop a comprehensive and
easily understood policy for Internet usage. A good policy
can help protect school resources, limit liability, and
clarify rights and expectations of both students and staff
members. As always, you should consult your school
district's attorney for guidance in drafting a policy. A
description of the main components of a model policy for
acceptable Internet use follows:
- Clear, specific language -
don't leave staff members and students guessing at what
you're trying to say. Define all ambiguous terms and use
language that is age-appropriate.
- Detailed standards of behavior
- be specific about what you expect of students and staff
members when they utilize the Internet for educational
purposes. Stress appropriate use, describe the school's
Internet policy, and outline the legal issues involved.
Also remind users that Internet use is a privilege and
not a right.
- Detailed enforcement
guidelines/standards - be explicit about how you will
enforce your school's policy. Offer specific examples of
prohibited behavior and the punishment delineated for it.
Explain the types of liability that a student or staff
member will face in the event of violations of the law
and/or the school's rules concerning acceptable use and
- A comprehensive Internet policy
statement - for both students and staff members. Also
confer with your school district's attorney and elicit
suggestions from other administrators, staff members,
students, and parents.
- Outline/list of acceptable vs. not
acceptable uses - again, be specific. This is not an
instance where you want to be over or under-inclusive.
Make sure that after reading the list, students and staff
can clearly articulate what constitutes acceptable
- Student and parent consent
forms - consent forms are always a good idea
particularly in this context, where some parents may not
want their children on the Internet. The consent form or
agreement should be specific, easy to understand and
- Description of online
etiquette - in addition to the five rules of Net
Etiquette listed below, it may be a good idea to
establish a priority system for students. For example,
though games may have educational merit, other
educational pursuits (e.g., research) may be a more
efficient use of limited time.
- Privacy statement - inform
students and staff that privacy on the Internet is
relative. Make clear the fact that the school may find it
necessary to view data or files on the system. Also
remind users that you cannot guarantee confidentiality of
information stored on the Network.
- Disclaimer of liability - this
statement should be drafted so as to protect against
inappropriate use, copyright violations, or accuracy of
information found on a school's system.
For a more detailed look at the many
issues, refer to the December 1997 National Association of
Secondary School Principals Legal Memorandum entitled Schools and the Internet Revolution (ISSN
Ethical rules concerning Internet use,
although not required by law, are equally deserving of your
attention. You should develop a set of informal guidelines
for appropriate and efficient use. These important
guidelines have been coined “Net Etiquette,” and getting
your students and staff members to learn, appreciate, and
follow these rules is essential:
- Be polite.
- Use appropriate language.
- Do not reveal or request personal
- Do not use systems in a way that
would disrupt Network use by others.
- Respect the intellectual property of
other users and information providers.
The goal of Net Etiquette is to encourage
the efficient use of a shared resource--in this case, the
Internet. In devising your own set of rules, employ a common
A Sample of Net Etiquette
The following list of rules is courtesy
Magid and the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- I will not give out personal
information such as my address, telephone number,
parents' work address/telephone number, or the name and
location of my school without my parents'
- I will tell my parents right away if
I come across any information that makes me feel
- I will never agree to get together
with someone I “meet” online without first checking with
my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be
sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or
- I will never send a person my picture
or anything else without first checking with my
- I will not respond to any messages
that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable.
It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do
I will tell my parents riht away so that they can contact
the online service.
- I will talk with my parents so that
we can set up rules for going online. We will decide upon
the time of day that I can be online, the length of time
I can be online, and appropriate areas for me to visit. I
will not access other areas or break these rules without
Lawrence J. Magid, is the author of Cruising On-line: Larry Magid's Guide to the New Digital
Highway (Random House, 1994) and The Little PC
Book (Peachpit Press, 1993).