Acceptable Use: Responsibility, Reliability & Risks

Wherever you teach or study, your school should be looking for ways to integrate digital media and technology learning into the curriculum. Schools must also be a safe place for children to get real-world, hands on experience with new digital frontiers. Toward that end, it is extremely important that teachers, students and parents have a common understanding of what acceptable use of technology is. That is the purpose of an Acceptable Use Policy.

Life on the digital frontier is ever changing and today's children and youth are experiencing a convergence of their real and online lives. So we also need to acknowledge that a student’s online life can and does affect their life at school. If your child is living any part of their life online, they should know that you are involved and that you care about what they are doing online.

Senior High School student Nick Lehotsky suggests that "the three R’s of old (reading, writing and arithmetic) need to be updated to the three R’s of a 21st century education: understanding responsibility, reliability and risks in today’s world of technology."


Think before you click! That should our mantra concerning any online activity because there is no undo button once you post something online. Unkind words, hurtful messages or cruel comments posted online are all considered cyberbullying. As parents and educators, we walk a fine line when “monitoring” our children’s online activities. We have a responsibility to ensure their safety while also providing them with real-world opportunities where they can learn to appreciate the value their privacy and the privacy of others.

Did you know?
  • Most social media sites like Facebook and YouTube have a 13 and under age restriction as well as recommending that “minors 13 years of age or older ask their parents for permission before sending any information about themselves to anyone over the Internet.”
  • As a parent, you should have full access to all your child's online accounts and e-mail. This is really no different than an employer providing and having access to the account info (username and password )of their employees for security purposes.
  • Under legislation approved in 2011 by Virginia’s General Assembly, it is now a Class 1 misdemeanor to use a cellular telephone or other wireless device to transmit a text message that contains “profane, threatening, or indecent language.”
  • Internet filtering has been used as a way to prevent children from getting access to inappropriate content, but now some educators believe that internet filtering actually trains kids to undervalue their privacy.


Digital fluency is the “ability to find, evaluate and ethically use digital information efficiently and effectively” ( Building digital fluency skills is not only a key component of learning in the 21st century, but also a life skill needed for us to interact reliably as globally connected citizens.

Did you know?
  • Only 2 % of new information created today appears in print format.
  • All the online information today represents the equivalent of 13 stacks of books reaching from Earth to Pluto.
  • There are 2 billion people connected to the web.
  • We suffer from infowhelm; having access to more information than anyone can possibly learn and synthesize. The responsibility is now on us to analyze and authenticate this information, determining fact from opinion.


We live in a world where every choice we make has some kind of risk associated with it. The choices we make online, however, are public and permanent. What we leave behind from any and all of our interactions online is called our digital footprint.

Did you know?
  • Digital images taken with smart phones or other devices with GPS capability embed the location coordinates into the image and these can be extracted by anyone when they are posted online.
  • Colleges and employers weed out potential candidates by looking at their digital footprints.

Other resources: