Netiquette: Teach Your Kids to Be Polite Online

Being polite is something that every child is taught by his or her parents from their early childhood. Simple rules, such as saying “please” and “thank you,” wishing a nice day, not being rude or calling names, not yelling, not interrupting the speaker and many others, once new for a kid, soon become a habitual day-to-day practice that goes without saying.

But life is changing, and parents have to adjust their methods of bringing up children to it. Back in the days, parents had to teach kids a cell phone etiquette, like muting the mobile in the theater or movies. Nowadays, with the general popularity and availability of the Internet, it comes to the next stage – educate them about the rules of netiquette.

The term “netiquette” comes from the combination of two words – “network” and “etiquette.” Accordingly, the definition of netiquette goes as “rules of online behavior,” or “a social code of network communication.”

The younger generation is generally much more technically savvy than their parents and starts using the Internet at a very early age. According to the recent “Tweens, Teens and Technology” research conducted by McAfee:

  • Tweens (kids 8-12 y.o.) in average spend 1,5 hours per day online;
  • They use 3-4 devices with the access to the Internet;
  • 67% spend most of the online time on the social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (although they are not allowed to have accounts until they’re 13 years old!).

When knowing the basic netiquette guidelines, kids have much bigger chances to grow up into polite and responsible Internet users.

Here are TOP 10 netiquette tips for kids:

  • Treat other users online as you’d like to be treated yourself

Explain to your child that whenever he or she doubts if to do/say something or not, he should stop for a moment and think if he’d like someone to say this to him. The answer will become pretty clear. One can’t take his words back in real life, once they are said, just like one can’t take back what’s written on the Internet once it is sent – even deleted posts or comments can be screenshotted or cached before removal.

For this reason, it’s also best not to continue a conversation with someone online when you get upset or angry. A person can say a lot when emotional, which later he or she can regret. It’s better to step out and return to a conversation or a discussion once you are calm.

  • Don’t become involved in cyberbullying

Statistic says that over 70% of kids have faced bullying themselves or know someone who has been bullied by their peers at school. Bullying via the internet – cyberbullying – became a serious and growing problem nowadays.

Children may start bullying someone online being encouraged by the thought that no one on the Internet knows their identity, and thus they can say or do anything they want. Explaining to your child how to withstand cyber bullies, and teaching them to never participate in such behavior can become really helpful in fighting this problem.

  • Mind the problem with posting images

Sexting – sending sexually explicit texts, suggestive or even nude/semi-nude photos – is not something unheard among teenagers today. Sexting is qualified as child pornography and can get both the sender of pictures and the recipient into serious trouble with the law. The negative consequences can last for the rest of the life.

That’s why it is crucial for parents to explain to their teens the risks and potential consequences of such behavior. Also, parents should teach that once a picture is sent online, there’s no way of taking it back. Moreover, the recipient can save it, re-sent or re-post.

  • Never reveal your personal information

Educate your child to never reveal any personal information to anyone online, even to people they know. The Internet is full of fraudsters and predators who tend to lure children into sharing personal details such as full name, exact address, age, financial details, etc. Identity theft is one of the negative things that can happen as a result of this.

  • Protect your own privacy and keep privacy of the others

One of the most important things your child should know about using the Internet is how to protect their privacy. Teach your youngster to change personal privacy settings and never reveal any passwords to anyone, even to friends. Besides, children should also learn to respect the privacy of other users.

If a friend has shared some secret or confession with your kid, your son or daughter should keep that secret by all means. Revealing it and spreading gossip is the worst he can do to a friend who trusted him.

  • Do not steal content online

The Internet is full of illegal programs that offer people to download movies, songs, photos and other content without paying for it. Children are often tempted to use this opportunity and try to download at least a couple tracks for free. However, this is qualified as violating copyright and can potentially cause serious problems with the law. Explain these risks to your kids to avoid the consequences in future.

  • Try your best to look good online

Even if other users can’t always see who they are talking to online and judge them by appearance (which makes many people feel more confident online), they will still make up their mind about a person. Minding your grammar, always being polite and respectful to others as well as being an attentive listener – these are some of the basic netiquette rules for kids. Following them, you can gain a positive reputation online and make other users think good of you.

  • Use emojis carefully

Little icons called smilies or emojis are widely known to all users of the World Web. Inserting them into your messages can help other people understand your emotions better, as it is impossible to read facial expressions or body language of another person through the online conversations. At the same time, use emojis carefully and mindfully only in an appropriate context. This will help kids avoid many unpleasant misunderstandings while communicating online.

  • Respect other users’ time

Reading and typing messages online takes time and effort. Be polite, respect the time other people take to read your texts, and the time they take to reply you. Don’t ignore their messages and don’t take too long to send back your answer. Avoid spreading spam, as many people are annoyed by it. Always mind online etiquette and be just as polite as you would be in real life.

  • Be helpful and understanding

Whenever you meet a person who is new to some online service or a social network, offer your help. Everyone is a newbie at some stage. Try to make the life of a person a little easier by helping him or her out. If you see that someone does not understand things you already know, show tolerance and compassion; never criticize them or make fun.

Going through these simple tips with your kids will teach them Internet etiquette and make them responsible Internet citizens.


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