Digital Devices and Online Services for Students Procedures

Direction and guidance on the safe, responsible and respectful use of digital devices and online services for students in NSW public schools.

Audience and applicability

All staff and students in NSW public schools.

Version Date Description of changes Approved by
3.0.0 09/10/2023 Updated the procedure to remove reference to mobile phones. Converted to the new procedure template. Changed procedure name from ‘Student use of digital devices and online services guide’. Executive Director, Digital Learning

About the policy

Term Definition

Digital devices

Include laptops, tablets, wearable technology (such as smartwatches and headphones) and other devices that can receive, store, process and share digital information and connect to applications (apps), websites and other online services.

For mobile phone management, see the Student use of mobile phones in schools policy.

Educational purposes Any use approved by school staff that supports student learning, wellbeing and educational outcomes.
Online services Include digital classrooms, chat and messaging, online games, virtual reality, interactive online learning activities, social media and other online spaces.
School-related settings Include school grounds, school-related activities and outside of school, where there is a clear and close connection between the school and the conduct of students, such as excursions and camps. This connection may exist in situations where: there is a discussion regarding school related matters taking place outside of school hours; a student is wearing their school uniform but is not on school premises; a relationship between parties commenced at school; students are online in digital classrooms; and where online contact has flow on consequences at school and duty of care requires the school to respond once an incident is reported.


  • establish strategies and practices consistent with this policy and deliver learning experiences to encourage appropriate use of digital devices and online services
  • inform staff, including new and casual staff, about this policy
  • provide teachers and other school staff with support and professional development in appropriate use of digital devices and online services.

Principals, teachers and school administration services staff:

  • support parents and/or carers, and students to understand possible strategies for promoting safe, responsible and respectful use of digital devices and online services
  • model appropriate use of digital devices and online services
  • respond to, record and report any inappropriate use of digital devices and online services, as outlined in the Student Behaviour policy
  • implement this policy in consultation with school staff, students, parents and/or carers, including determining where devices are to be kept while on school premises.

Parents and carers:

  • support policy implementation, including resolving issues, communicate with school staff and the school community respectfully and collaboratively.

What needs to be done

1. Review or develop the school approach for managing digital devices

  • Principals need to determine their school’s approach to managing student use of digital devices and online services, including considering their school’s infrastructure and capabilities.

    For mobile phone management, see the Student Use of Mobile Phones in Schools policy.
  • Principals need to consult with staff on the planned school approach, as well as engage with students and parents or carers on aspects of the approach.

    Be clear about what aspects of the approach the school community can influence and give them sufficient time to review and provide feedback.

    Communicate any key changes well in advance and provide an opportunity to have questions and concerns addressed.
Engage with school staff Engage with students Engage with parents or carers

Work through the school strategy with your staff and ensure they understand what needs to be done, why and whose role it is to carry it out.

You may want to establish a team of staff members to be subject matter experts, champion the strategy and be the first point of contact for other staff, students and parents or carers.

Examples for engaging students:

  • student representative councils
  • surveys to gather feedback directly.

Examples for engaging parents or carers:

  • parents and citizens associations
  • information sessions
  • calls for submissions
  • surveys to gather feedback directly.

Principals may use the sample school plan to document the appropriate range of contexts and settings, as outlined in the following sections.

Principals and teachers can allow students to use digital devices and online services for educational purposes. For example, teachers can use digital devices and online services to:

  • structure learning and make it more engaging for students
  • help students become independent learners
  • support a range of learners and interests
  • provide opportunities for collaboration and problem-solving.

Schools can help students understand how to be good digital citizens – to be respectful (understand online behaviour and its effects), responsible (think critically and be digitally aware) and safe (protect security, privacy and wellbeing).

Schools can also choose which school-related settings are appropriate for students to use digital devices and online services.

Bring your own device (BYOD) is an optional program where parents or carers can provide personal digital devices for use at school. Personal devices are also covered under this policy.

To ensure personal devices can support students’ education needs, principals need to clearly communicate any device specification requirements to students, and parents or carers.

Further resources:

Address any incidents relating to inappropriate use of digital devices and online services according to your school’s existing behaviour management plan and the Student Behaviour policy.

If students and staff repeatedly engage in activities, using the school’s ICT network, that result in copyright infringement then the department may suspend ICT network access privileges.

Where there are medical or wellbeing concerns for students, parents and carers, school counsellors, school psychologists, student support officers and students can request an exemption from the school strategy. This may cover times or places where use would otherwise be restricted.

Principals and teachers will assess these requests on a case-by-case basis.

Some students require reasonable adjustments to their learning and support needs under the Disability Standards for Education 2005. A disability may include a medical condition impacting a student.

Principals must consult, as appropriate, the student, and their parents or carers, and any external service providers as needed, in determining the adjustments for the student.

Reasonable adjustments may include access to digital devices and online services to participate in the education on the same basis as a student without disability. This may need to be documented as part of an existing student learning plan, as determined by the principal.

2. Implement the approach for managing digital devices and online services

Principals will need to:

  • make adjustments as needed to the approach following engagement with the school community
  • ensure staff understand what needs to be done, why and their role in implementing the approach
  • communicate the approach to students and parents or carers
    • outline the school’s digital device management approach on the school website
    • use a range of other forums, for example at school assemblies or parent information sessions, in newsletters, in letters or emails, or on social media
    • provide training for students on using digital devices in safe, responsible and respectful ways.
  • review the overall approach to managing student use of digital devices and online services, as needed, following the process outlined in this procedure.

If a student, and parent or carer has any complaints relating to this strategy, the first step is to follow the school’s complaints process. If the issue cannot be resolved, they should access the Making a complaint about our schools guide.

The department’s Complaints Handling policy also provides further information and support for both the school community and staff.

The Executive Director, Digital Learning monitors the implementation of this procedure, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy, and updates it as needed.

Reference number PD-2020-0471-01-V03.0.0
Implementation date 27/01/2020
Last updated 09/10/2023
Publicly available Yes
Policy cluster/s Technology


  • Education support operations


  • Technology

Business Unit:

  • Information Technology
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