Netiquette for Kids
When you are hanging out at home with your older children, and they are glued to their phones or electronic devices, ever wonder what they’re chatting about or if they are “behaving” online? We all know that our kids are communicating very differently than we did at their ages. Tweets, pics, gifs, memes and bitmojis have taken the place of letters and face-to-face conversations. The challenge for parents is that the rules of etiquette that came with writing a letter or talking to a friend at lunch have not kept up with the new style of communication. We know that electronic communication is here to stay, so it’s important for parents to get involved. Check out these “netiquette” tips from The Safety Mom to help empower you to worry less.
I once had a dad say to me that his daughter never talks to him. I asked him if he has text chats with her and he looked at me as if I was crazy. I asked him to give it a try and sure enough within a very short time they were engaging in conversations and developing a closer relationship.
The way in which our kids communicate is dramatically different than how we did when we were their age. For those of us who have teens or use social media on a regular basis, how we “talk” to people could be texts, snaps or pics. Quite often I’ll say to my husband that I “talked” to a friend which for me means we had exchanged texts or IMs. He just doesn’t get it.
The problem is there are very few rules of engagement when you’re communicating electronically. You can’t determine tone or inference and what might be an innocent comment can spur a major argument. There’s no doubt that social media and electronic communication is here to stay so it’s important to teach your kids appropriate “netiquette.”
1. Join in: If you’re not following your kids on social media, now’s the time to start. First, you’ll be able to learn from them what Snap Map is and why they have a Finsta as well as a Rinsta. Most importantly you’ll be able to see what’s happening with their friend groups and who is being excluded. Comments about a person’s appearance, sexuality or even just a subtle criticism can lead to hundreds of re-posts and can destroy someone. Cyberbullying has become a true epidemic and is directly attributable to many instances of suicide and violence. Not only is it important to teach your kids not to post anything negative but not to repost or share something that someone else has posted that could be hurtful. Also, if they see a post that is potentially threatening or cause for concern they should immediately report it to a school official.
2. A picture speaks a thousand words: You know all the selfies your daughter’s taking? She’s not alone. Our kids speak in images now and chronicle every moment of their lives. Unfortunately, what they still don’t realize (along with some politicians, coaches and other adults) is that whatever pic goes up can be found and will never go away. Employers and college admission officers are routinely looking through candidates Facebook pages and Instagram feeds to get an idea of the real person. Admission offers have been rescinded due to drunken and semi-nude pics that have been discovered. Drill into your kids’ heads – if they can’t show their parents a picture it shouldn’t be going up on social media!
3. Know who their friends are: Online, everyone is a friend. The two girls your daughter went to summer camp with have connected her with twenty other kids around the country who she’s never met IRL (In real life.) There is no consideration to who these people are which can lead to some dangerous situations. A recent study found that 69% of teens regularly receive personal messages online from people they do not know and nearly a third say they usually reply and chat. Teens are also making it incredibly easy to learn personal details – 64% post photos or videos of themselves, while more than half (58%) post info about where they live. On a regular basis review who’s following them on Instagram and make sure they have their account marked as private so that they can’t be followed without being accepted.