It can be tough to keep up with technology - especially when it comes to smartphones as they get bigger (or smaller) and more powerful.

Now, thanks to the Online Safety Advisory Group, chaired by Rotorua principal Patrick Walsh, schools have useful guidelines to help them deal with issues stemming from digital devices, including bullying and sexting (yes, that's a word now).

The guidelines, available for schools and parents on the Ministry of Education website, allow teachers to react to digital incidents deemed to be detrimental to students' wellbeing.

Yes, it would be nice if teachers could just focus more on teaching and less on policing, but we don't live in an ideal world.


We entrust our children to the care of schools - if we're not there to look out for our kids, it's good to know that teachers are. If school staff suspect serious cases of bullying, sexting or recording criminal activities, the device can be handed over to police.

Just the threat of authorities getting their hands on devices should be enough to curb a lot of undesirable behaviour.

Put yourself in a student's shoes - would you want other people confiscating your personal phone and checking out what you've been up to in your private life?

With these new guidelines, students and their parents will be under no illusion about a school's ability to act on suspicions. It might sound a bit draconian from the outside, but schools are different from when we were students - and, depending on your age, both technology and bullying have evolved markedly.

Like many parents, I abhor bullying, and if special measures are needed to help stamp it out so be it.

-Kim Gillespie is the editor of the Daily Post.