We’ve talked a lot about the pros and cons of kids using tablets, phones, and other digital devices at various ages. Whatever your opinion happens to be about how young is too young, however, the fact remains that youngsters are experimenting with technology and even social media at earlier ages than ever before. The onus of teaching these kids responsible and appropriate use falls on teachers and most importantly, parents. Here’s what your kid needs to know about netiquette (i.e. internet etiquette) before diving into cyberspace:
1. Be yourself
As long as your kid (like most kids) is polite, kind, and compassionate in the real world, it’s okay to give them the go-ahead to be themselves online. Make sure that they realizes that the anonymity the Internet can afford users doesn’t give them the excuse to be unkind or tease someone else online. The golden rule of netiquette is this: if you wouldn’t say it to a person’s face, don’t say it online.
2. Communicate clearly
The Internet is an awesome and powerful thing, but there are some things even the Web can’t do. For instance, when we communicate offline, we use gestures, make eye contact, and pick up on body language cues. All of this is lost when we take conversations online. Make sure your child knows how to communicate clearly online to avoid misunderstandings and the hurt feelings that can result from them. Teach them how to use emoticons, for instance, and advise them to avoid typing in all caps, since many people equate this to online shouting.
3. Do as the Romans do
You know that expression? It’s a good principle for online behavior in forums and discussion groups. These web-based communities may have their own standards of behavior, so teach your kid to observe before chiming in. For instance, an online book club may have members who haven’t yet completed the book. To make sure that the ending isn’t revealed to these readers, other members may preface their comments with the heading “spoiler alert” so that those still in the middle of the book will know to skip over that particular post.
It’s easy to get so caught up in teaching children how to be safe online that we forget to teach them how to be polite on the Web. Netiquette is an important digital literacy skill, so don’t neglect it. Instead, use these tips to begin a conversation about online manners with your child today!