Acceptable Use Policies

Internet access is widespread throughout schools.  In order for schools to maintain control in regards to internet access, they need to adopt an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).  The basic concept of an AUP is similar to that of classroom and library rules or guidelines.  Such policies exist to keep students safe from online predators and questionable content that is present online.  They are also there to hold students and other users (staff, contractors, visitors) accountable for their actions and to keep them focused on using the Internet as a tool to support education.

Every state, district, and school creates their own type of Acceptable Use Policies.  As seen the in the examples below, many are very extensive and address Internet safety for students.  Some are designed as general rules for everyone to follow, and others include student specific agreement forms that students must sign along with parents/guardians such as the Austin Independent School District.  According to the National Education Association, “an effective AUP contains the following six key elements: a preamble, a definition section, a policy statement, an acceptable uses section, an unacceptable uses section, and a violations/sanctions section” (as cited in Education World, n.d.).  As districts and schools develop AUPs, federal and state laws need to be addressed.  According to James Bosco of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Participatory Learning in Schools: Policy & Leadership Initiative (2011), The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the Title II of the Broadband Data Improvement Act contain laws that policy makers must follow in regards to Internet access, safety, and social networking in schools.  It is important that districts and schools do what they can to protect their students and themselves from potential dangers while on the Internet.

Examples of Acceptable Use Policies:

– Independent School District of Boise City, ID:

The Independent School District of Boise City covers acceptable use of technology, prohibited use of technology, district rights and responsibilities, discipline, and parental right to restrict Internet access.  They allow parents to sign a form to request that their child not participate in the use of the Internet.

– Austin Independent School District, TX:

The Austin Independent School District covers rules for appropriate use, inappropriate uses, consequences for inappropriate use, reporting violations, monitored use and filtering, Internet safety, education, vandalism, forgery, and warning. They also include disclaimers and copyright information and require that all users, including parents/guardians with students, sign an agreement to follow the guidelines.

– Los Angeles Unified School District, CA:

The Los Angeles Unified School District includes acceptable and unacceptable use of their network or Internet access, student internet safety, penalties, and disclaimers.  They have separate documents for students and employees.  Students are required to sign an agreement along with their parents/guardians.

– The School District of Philadelphia, PA:

The School District of Philadelphia includes the purpose, definition, authority, delegation of responsibility, consequences for inappropriate use, and guidelines for e-mail, safety, prohibitions, security, and copyright which are supported by policies within state and federal laws.

– Escambia County School District, FL:

The Escambia County School District includes three parts to their guidelines for acceptable use of district information systems: staff access, student/community access, and district website guidelines. Some of the major topics covered are equipment, privacy, the Internet, e-mail, network operating system, unacceptable uses, and responsibility of the district, content, maintenance, and security.  They allow parents to sign a form to request that their child not participate in the use of the Internet, media, or web publishing and also require a usage permission form.


Education World. (n.d.). Getting started on the internet: Developing an acceptable use policy (AUP).  Retrieved from

Bosco, J. (2011). Acceptable use policies in the web 2.0 and mobile era. Consortium for School Networking Participatory Learning in Schools: Washington, DC. Retrieved from


4 Responses to Acceptable Use Policies

  1. jenikagantes says:

    Thanks for this succinct overview of AUPs Nicole!

  2. wingkender says:

    Your article is very informative of what constitutes an acceptable use policy–and it would seem by your comments that you think that they are necessary. Can you see any possibility where such policy in unnecessary in institutions of education?

    • nicolehirai says:

      Thank you for the feedback! In regards to your question, I can’t think of a possibility where an AUP would be unnecessary in an educational institution. I really think that all educational institutions should have some sort of AUP to not only protect users, but to protect themselves as an institution.

  3. biggsboys says:

    The thing that students don’t realize is that we really aren’t trying to micromanage them, but to keep them safe. I more don’t trust others in the world than my own students. I really enjoyed your post

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