Online etiquette to teach your kids – Part 2

First came table manners, now it's online manners

First came table manners, now it's online manners (Photo: Katie Lear)

First came table manners, now it’s online manners – Chelsea Clark seeks expert advice on how to teach your child digital etiquette. Like it or not, your kids are part of the digital world. The internet, mobile phones, emails and, of course, Facebook, all form integral parts of their 21st-century daily lives. And not just for socialising either. School teachers now post homework assignments online and the internet is used as much for work as it is for play.

Online etiquette – chain emails are not acceptable

Remember learning to write letters at school? All the same rules apply for emails, but there are a few extra things you should make your kids aware of. Most importantly, chain emails are not acceptable. “Don’t get into the habit of forwarding jokes,” says Deitz. “If I was boss of the world, those digital chain letters would be banned and senders punished accordingly,” she says

Also, like a personal handwritten letter, if an email is personally addressed to your child, the onus is on them to reply, says Pesce. Even a simple acknowledgement of the email is sometimes enough. “It’s polite to at least acknowledge the message with something along the lines of ‘Thanks, I’ll get back to you’,” he says.

Pretty patterns and colours should be left for handwritten notes. When it comes to email, coloured backgrounds or fonts can make the content of the message diffcult to read.

Online etiquette on Facebook

DO ask before you tag people on Facebook.
DO respond to messages and mentions. A simple thank you will do.
DON’T abuse application invites and constantly invite friends to participate.

Don’t overshare is:The number one thing every parent should drill into their kids is that there should be boundaries about what they post and share online. Remember, anything they post online is there forever – even if they, or you, delete it. Employers have been known to scout the Facebook pages of teens applying for jobs, so stress to your kids that anything they put online is there for the world to see. “When you post something to the internet it is the equivalent of pasting it to a billboard beside a freeway,” says Pesce. “Theoretically, you can do things ‘privately’ online, but once there’s a digital copy of that photograph, it can get copied and re-posted at the speed of light.”

Respect other people

R-E-S-P-E-C-T is a critical aspect of Online etiquette. Remember the old saying: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. Well, the same applies online. Ask your children to think about what they are writing on blogs, forums or on their friends’ Facebook pages before they post. Would they want someone to say that to them?

Consider others It’s important not to allow laptops or mobile phones at the dinner table or any other ‘family time’
situation. Teaching your kids about the right time to send messages or emails to their friends is just as important as any other rule associated with how they behave online. “Before sending any sort of electronic or voice message, consider where, when and how the person will be receiving it,” suggests Deitz. And, if your kids are on the receiving end of a message just as you’re sitting down for dinner, insist they wait until afterwards to check it.

Read part 1 here

Also read: Cyberbullied by some of my best friends

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