Etiquette is a code of behavior that defines expectations for social behavior. Children who grow up without learning this important code may not develop important social relationship skills for interacting with others and are at a greater risk of conflict when interacting with their peers.
Teaching etiquette and manners starts at home. Parents should begin working with their children at an early age teaching basic manners such as asking “please” and saying “thank you.” This basic foundation can be expanded upon by choosing the traits you wish to cultivate in your kids. As the qualities of respect, kindness, honesty, self-esteem and thoughtfulness are built, your child will develop a solid character foundation and life-long survival skills.
It’s also important for parents to be good role models as kids are like sponges soaking up everything around them. They’ll absorb your actions on a daily basis and even your online behavior will be mimicked so setting the right example on and off line is an responsibility as a parent.
Etiquette Guidelines – Behavior when communicating on the Internet also known as Netiquette:
- Respect – Stress the importance of treating others the same way they like to be treated – being polite will develop your child’s relationship building skills. When chatting or in a chat group, avoid name calling, gossip, negative talk about classmates or discussing personal and controversial topics such as religion, politics, sex, race or ethnicity. Be courteous, kind and considerate of others online. Even though you’re behind a computer, your words identify who you are. Set boundaries on what is acceptable and not acceptable discussion online.
- Use appropriate language & emoticons (emotion icons) – Be conscious of what you say as unkind words and actions can cause hurt feelings. Watch the use of emoticons and punctuation when to trying to convey your meaning and be clear in your communication to minimize misunderstandings. Avoid writing in all caps as it’s rude and is considered the equivalent of verbally SHOUTING and being ‘in your face.’ Remember that when you’re online no else can see your body language, facial expressions or hear the tone of your voice.
- Think Before You Send – Pictures, texts, email and videos can all be posted, copied, forwarded, downloaded and reconfigured with PhotoShop. If you think something might embarrass someone, invade their privacy or stir up drama, do not send it out. You can’t retrieve it once it’s sent or posted and it will remain in cyberspace forever.
- Create a safe screen name– Encourage your kids to think about the impression that screen names can make so they won’t choose provocative or identifiable nicknames that can lead to name calling or bullying.
- Cyberbullying – This is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass or target another person. If targeted by a cyberbully, do not respond because it will lead to a never ending cycle of verbally bashing one another. Keep all original correspondence with dates and times if possible. If the messages are of a threatening nature or safety is a concern, contact local law enforcement as soon as possible.
“If you aren’t going to say something directly to someone’s face, than don’t use online as an opportunity to say it. It is this sense of bravery that people get when they are anonymous that gives the blogosphere a bad reputation.” – Mena Trott
“No matter how well you know the rules of netiquette, you will eventually offend someone who doesn’t.”– Don Rittner
How do you teach your children ‘netiquette’ ?