Teaching Kids Netiquette

child-on-computer.jpgToday, Sheri shares five tips for teaching kids netiquette:

Given that kids interact online as much (hopefully not more) as they do in person, it's important to teach kids "netiquette" -- how to behave when it come to social interactions on the internet. Now that many kids are off (or soon to be off) for the summer and have more free time to spend online at home, it's a good time to have these conversations. Here are five basic netiquette rules that parents can model and teach to their kids:
1. Be respectful. Talk to your kids about the importance of treating others as they would like to be treated. Avoid name calling, gossip, and negative talk; instead, be courteous, kind, and considerate of others online. Never state anything that you would not say to someone's face. Often people get a false sense of bravery when a computer screen sits between them and another person. But your words identify who you are and can be traced back to you.

2. Use appropriate language & emoticons. E-mails and texts lack the subtlety of emotion that is expressed in person via body language and speech intonation. Watch the use of emoticons (emotion icons) and punctuation when trying to convey meaning and be clear in your communication to minimize misunderstandings. Also, avoid writing in all caps since it's considered the equivalent of verbally shouting.

3. Think before you send. Pictures, texts, email, and videos can all be posted, copied, forwarded, downloaded, and edited. If you think something might embarrass someone, invade their privacy, hurt their feelings, or stir up drama, do not send it out! Once something is sent, it is beyond your control. If you're tempted to share an embarrassing image of someone, stop and think and put yourself in their shoes.

4. Create a safe screen name. Encourage your kids to think about the impression that screen names can make so they won't choose names that are provocative or identifiable and that may lead to name calling or bullying.

5. Don't provoke. If targeted by a cyberbully, do not respond because it can lead to a never ending cycle of abuse. Instead, encourage your child to come talk to you as soon as there is a problem and keep all original correspondence with dates and times. If the messages are of a threatening nature, contact school authorities and/or law enforcement immediately.

In this digital age where preschoolers are able to navigate smartphones, it's never too early to teach kids how to behave safely and well online. Keep conversation open with your child so you can help them learn how to make good decisions.

Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net