Teachers will be able to better manage their online presence using special guidelines developed for educators, a Northland principal says.
"There's a climate out there for secondary teachers to be involved with their students 24 hours a day," Hora Hora Primary School principal Pat Newman said.
"What often happens is that things that start off quite innocently can get people into trouble, not in an illegal way ... but maybe because it may not have been appropriate."
A website on social media use for teachers, pupils and parents was launched yesterday by the New Zealand Teachers Council.
Users are provided with guidelines for appropriate use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Information includes potential ethical dilemmas which may arise for schools, individual teachers, students and parents through social media.
Mr Newman said an increasing number of complaints regarding social media and students had led to the development of the guidelines.
Council director Dr Peter Lind said teachers needed to know how to protect themselves while using social media to enhance interaction and student learning. They were also expected to be role models for students.
"We know that social media is a fact of life. Strong role-modelling by teachers will grow learners who understand the implications of their actions online," he said.
Dr Lind hoped the policy would have particular benefits for teenage students.
"We know that a significant number of young secondary students start to disengage from their learning.
"They come to school as 5-year-olds, bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to learn but things happen over the course of their growing up," he said.
Though they have huge potential as education resources, networking sites such as Facebook have also been linked to proliferating incidents of cyber-bullying by school children.