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What Is An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)?
The National Education Association suggests that an effective AUP contain the following six key elements. Explanations of each element can be found here.
- a preamble,
- a definition section,
- a policy statement,
- an acceptable uses section,
- an unacceptable uses section, and
- a violations/sanctions section.
Acceptable Use for Librarians & Educators
The Internet Advocate, "A Web-based Resource Guide for Librarians and Educators Interesting in Providing Youth Access to the Net," recommends that librarians and educators be prepared to:
- "develop an 'acceptable use policy,' (AUP);
- provide examples of AUPs from schools and libraries;
- understand software to block Internet sites and related safety/censorship issues;
- contact organizations committed to electronic freedom of information; and
- familiarize yourself with additional Internet resources for librarians."
In other words, an AUP can't be developed in a vacuum. A vital, workable Acceptable Use Policy must be based on a philosophy that balances freedom and responsibility. To that end, the Internet Advocate Web site provides many of the tools that librarians and educators will need to develop a philosophy and a workable AUP.
Many AUPs make students aware of basic Internet safety rules before they are allowed to surf independently. A popular resource, especially for elementary-age children, is Lawrence J. Magid's "My Rules for Online Safety." Among those rules are:
- "I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
- I will never agree to get together with someone I 'meet' online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will make sure it is in a public place and I will bring my mother or father along.
- I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents."
Magid also has written Teen Safety on the Information Highway, which delineates the special risks faced by teenagers. Among the advice given to teenagers: Share what you know about the Internet with your parents!
Additional information can be found here.