Social Networking Acceptable Use Policy

This is an example of the content that may be included in a school’s policy on social networking. These guidelines are provided as general guidance only. When considering the implementation of these guidelines, your school’s specific circumstances should be taken into account.

Click on each title in the table for an example of the content which may be included.

1. Whole School Agreement

Effective policies clearly articulate the shared responsibility among all community members to promote positive uses of technology, in particular social networking and to actively work together to address negative online behaviours. A whole school agreement may state:

School X is committed to providing staff and students with the best possible information and communication technologies so they can access a wide range of educational resources and learning tools. The school aims to monitor staff and students’ acceptable usage of Social Networking sites and therefore uphold the school values when these tools are being used.

2. Policy Rationale

A clear statement of purpose regarding the use of social networking sites should be articulated in the policy. A policy rationale should emphasise the school’s positive goals and may state:

The Social Networking Acceptable Use Policy at School X outlines appropriate use of the school’s Social Networking sites such as their Facebook page. School X will not tolerate the misuse of their social networking site, such as using it as a tool for cyberbullying, and therefore outlines below potential sanctions and disciplinary action in response to any breach of policy.

3. Policy Objectives

The objectives of the expected behaviour policy when using social networking should outline the outcomes the school wishes to achieve by implementing this policy. To allow for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the policy implementation, it will be important to consider how these outcomes may be measured. These objectives may include:

The use of social networking provides an opportunity to:

  1. Create applications such as webpages and blogs as part of the teaching program (see Guidelines for School Staff using social media and other technologies, DOEWA, 2013).
  2. Engage and interact with peers and the wider community (see Guidelines for School Staff using social media and other technologies, DOEWA, 2013).
  3. Study social networking sites as texts in learning such as English and media studies (see Guidelines for School Staff using social media and other technologies, DOEWA, 2013).

4. Key Understandings and Competencies

It is important all members of the school community share common understandings about digital citizenship and pro-social behaviours on social networks. This includes the type of behaviour expected when using social networks and the type of behaviour that is not expected, for example cyberbullying.

Common understandings that may be incorporated into a policy on social networking include but are not restricted to:


4.1 Definition of social networking.
4.2 Types of behaviour expected when social networking.
4.3 Misuse of social networks including behaviours regarded as inappropriate.
4.4 Definition of cyberbullying behaviours.
4.4.1 Types and examples of cyberbullying behaviours.
4.4.2 Information about actions that need to be taken by anyone experiencing cyberbullying and bystanders to the cyberbullying behaviour.
4.5 Information about actions that need to be taken if anyone is a bystander to a negative online behaviour when social networking such as cyber aggression or cyberbullying.


Note: This content should be consistent with the school’s behaviour management/behavioural expectations policy and the school’s bullying prevention policy and any other policy referring to the school’s behaviour expectations.

5. Rights and Responsibilities

Individual and shared responsibilities of students, families and school staff are best understood when outlined in the school policy. For example, an acknowledgement can be made that is it the responsibility of the whole-school community to encourage positive online behaviours when using social networking and discourage cyberbullying in these online spaces. Other acknowledgements may include:

School X believes in the personal rights and responsibilities of all members who use the social networking sites.

5.1 Rights

A statement of the rights of students, staff, families and the wider school community with respect to their online behaviours including:

  • A declaration of the rights of individuals in the whole school community to be free of all forms of bullying including cyberbullying
  • A statement of rights of students, staff, familiies and the wider cschool community with respect to prosocial online behaviour and types of bullying.

5.2 Responsibilities

A statement of the shared responsibility of staff, students and families to model positive online behaviours and to prevent and respond to reports and observations of poor behaviour.

Students, staff and families have a shared responsibility to:

  • Promote positive online relationships that respect individual differences in the school community
  • Acknowledge their responsibility as role models of positive and respectful online behaviours
  • Be familiar with the school’s Acceptable Use of Social Networking policy and procedures
  • Report incidents of cyberbullying or cyberaggression on social networking sites in accordance with the school’s policy on positive online behaviours and digital citizenship.
  • Follow up with incidents of cyberbullying in accordance with the school’s policy on bullying.

Examples of students’ responsibilities on social networks may include:
5.2.1 Students’ responsibilities

  • Do not post personal information about yourself or another student or member of the school community on the Internet such as your name, birth date, address, telephone number, current location and/or school.
  • Do not post inappropriate or unauthorised material of yourself or a member of the school community on the Internet. e.g. Facebook, YouTube.
  • Do not post personal communications in someone else’s name e.g. set up a Facebook account in the name of a staff member or another student.
  • Respect the privacy of the school employees e.g. don’t add school staff members as friends or contacts on SNS such as Facebook.
  • Do not upload pictures of others to social networking sites without their permission.

6. Reporting Social Networking Misuse

Schools have a responsibility to inform staff, students and families about the actions that should be taken in response to the misuse of social networking sites. The following are examples of what could be included:

6.1 Process for complaints

Members of the school community may report misuses of social networking including cyberbullying by following the procedures for reporting as outlined in the Bullying Prevention Policy. These procedures must clarify how complaints will be investigated, handled and documented. For more information on guiding principles for staff, go to Step 1. Which policies may need to be developed/reviewed?

An example of these procedures may include:

  1. Download an incident report form from the school website. Complete the form to be given to relevant staff for follow up.
  2. Misuse will be documented and investigated to determine the severity of the behaviour.
  3. Disciplinary action (following the school’s behaviour management policy) will take place if the complaint clearly breaches school policies.
  4. Police action may be required based on the level of severity of the behaviour, for example, the misuse of technology such as threatening behaviour, transmission of pornography, which break the law and may lead to police involvement. For more information on the potential for criminal charges go to Step 1. Which policies may need to be developed/reviewed?

6.2 Contact points for staff, students and parents

A school policy should identify contact points for reporting. Individual schools need to take into account their specific circumstances when assigning contact points in their policies. For more information on the inclusion of these procedures in your policy go to Step 1. Which policies may need to be developed/reviewed?

Some examples of contact points specific to the monitoring of the school’s social networking site may include:

The following points of contact at School X are recommended to deal with any report of the misuse of the schools’ social networking site:

  • Incident report form which can be mailed/ hand delivered to the school reception. The form will be passed on to relevant staff for further investigations and parents contacted if necessary.
  • Contact names and numbers for the online monitoring team are provided in the policy. The online monitoring team are staff involved in monitoring the online content and/or behaviours of the school community on the school hosted blogs/websites e.g. positing inappropriate comments.
  • School principal (depending on the severity, may be the last point of contact)

6.3 Monitoring of the School’s blogs and other websites

Schools which host blogs and other websites should clearly outline in their policy, procedures for the monitoring and editing of the online content. Individual schools need to take into account their specific circumstances when stipulating rules concerning monitoring. Which policies may need to be developed/reviewed?

Some examples of procedures specific to the monitoring of the school’s social networking site may include:

School X monitors and edits all online content under the Acceptable Usage of ICT policy. To ensure the school’s online webpages are able to be used safely and all content is acceptable, the page is routinely monitored for deleterious content.

If the school becomes aware of any defamatory material on the school website or blog, the following guidelines may be useful:

  1. Copy or write down the content and if possible, take a screen shot of the content to show who is involved. Note: Schools staff must ensure they adhere to school policy guidelines on Child Protection regarding pornographic material.
  2. Exercise editorial control and delete the content that may impose a risk.
  3. The school monitoring system follow up the incident in line with the level of risk, the content involved and the school’s Behaviour Management Policy.

7. Policy Sanctions

The school’s policy should refer directly to the misuse of technology and prescribe specific responses. For more information on guiding principles for policies governing cyberbullying as an unacceptable behaviour, go to Step 1. Which policies may need to be developed/reviewed? Policies prescribing these responses should be consistent with the school’s Acceptable Use of ICT Agreement and Behaviour Management Policy and may state:

Students are encouraged to take responsibility when using School X’s Facebook page (or other social networking sites) including familarising themselves with the online behaviour regarded as unacceptable and in breach of the Social Networking Acceptable Usage policy.

School X will tailor sanctions and disciplinary action in relation to students who meet specific concerns related to breach of the Social Networking Acceptable Usage policy, and will assist students to develop the self-discipline and other skills (eg: conflict resolution skills, social decision making skills) necessary to behave appropriately when using the online services.

The consequences of misusing online services will be clearly outlined so that all users are aware that these behaviours may lead to the withdrawal of access to online services or the potential blocking of usage.

8. Staying Safe Online – Code of Conduct

The following guidelines while outlined in the school’s Acceptable Use of Social Networking policy can be consistently implemented through the school community’s teaching and learning program. Further examples of safe practices online can be found in this resource go to Module: Developing Personal Knowledge.

While references are made to a Facebook page, schools must consider their own specific circumstances and select a social networking site which meets their needs. Further examples of social networking sites can be found in this resource in Module: Developing Personal Knowledge.

This is an example of content related to ‘Staying Safe Online’ which may be included in a school’s Social Networking Policy. This information is provided in the Social Networking Policy Example provided by the sponsor-ed group.

School X outlines a number of methods to stay safe online whilst using social networking sites. Our School’s Facebook page (or other social networking site) allows our community to keep up to date with activities through the use of an easily accessible online environment.

8.1 Using real names

All users interacting with the School X’s Facebook page, by either liking or commenting on posts must do so using a Facebook account that clearly identifies them by their real name.

8.2 Raising issues and not including names

School X encourages the school community to get involved and share using the school’s Facebook page for example upcoming sporting events, international celebration days and community meetings but also reminds the community that some situations are best dealt with privately. The kind of issues that can be raised in this environment should be centred around school improvements, generally on infrastructure or processes. Issues involving any of the students or staff must not be raised on the Facebook page. School X will not support interactions that include negative posts or those that include the names of our teaching and administration staff, students or any other member of the community in issue based postings.

8.3 Using names in posts

Names can be used in posts only when you wish to acknowledge someone’s positive work or community contribution. The Facebook page is intended to build the school’s community spirit and as a result provides a supportive online environment to users.

8.4 How to interact with the Facebook page

Users will be able to comment on the school’s postings and on comments by other users. Users will also be able to ‘like’ a post or comment by clicking on the like button. However, they will not be allowed to author a posting of their own or load media such as photos or videos. These rights can and will be reviewed over time which may lead to further access for particular users.

8.5 Underage Facebook users

School X does not endorse children under the 13 years of age as imposed by Facebook creating their own Facebook account.

8.6 Moderation and Blocklisting

School X reserves the right and responsibility to set the strength level of the Facebook profanity filter and to add additional words and names to the page’s blocklist.

8.7 The Law and Facebook’s Terms

School X’s Facebook page operates under the Commonwealth Telecommunications Act and Facebook’s Terms.

9. Helpful Links

Any links that could expand on the content of the policy could be helpful for the school community. Relevant links can be found in the Module: Teaching and Learning.

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