Electronic media: a quick guide to staying out
of trouble

As the officer responsible for new educators, I have recently received several calls from educational leaders regarding new educators’ and pre-service teachers’ perceived inappropriate use of electronic media, which calls in to question professional conduct.

It is pivotal to remember that, as new educators and pre-service teachers, appropriate communication and professional boundaries must always be kept when dealing with students.

The following tips will assist.

Mobile phones

  • Never use your personal mobile phone, verbally or via text, to communicate with a student. The only time this may vary is where prior approval has been given in writing by your supervisor (principal/HOD etc).
  • Do not use a personal camera or mobile phone to photograph students or students’ work. The only time this may vary is where prior approval has been given in writing by your supervisor (principal/HOD etc).


  • Never communicate with students from a private or personal email address.
  • Always treat co-workers with dignity and respect in written communication.

Electronic social networks

  • Never use social networks to contact or access present students enrolled in any school or institute.
  • Never post photos of students on your social network pages (eg. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

In addition, consider the following.

  • Keep your profile set at the highest privacy setting permitted by the website.
  • Be mindful of the content, especially when it comes to photographs.
  • Keep “friends” to people you know.

It would be naïve to think that, even when you do your best to maintain the highest of privacy settings, students and their carers will not see your private information. These days, even 9-year-olds can quite easily access online information which has high privacy settings. Always be mindful that your private information could be considered inappropriate in a teacher/student relationship and therefore could become the cause of an official complaint being lodged with the employer.

Relationships with students

  • Discourage and reject any advances of a sexual nature initiated by a student.
  • Interactions with students must be, and must be seen to be, professional at all times.

While the above is just a quick dot point reference for you, it is important to keep this at the forefront of your mind at all times.

For more information, go to the QTU website and spend some time reading the "Electronic media and professional conduct" legal information brochure. You will need your QTU membership number and password to access this brochure.

Lynn Cowie-McAlister
Assistant Secretary - New Educators and Recruitment

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 119 No 6, 22 August 2014, p29