5 Things to Teach Your Kids About Digital Etiquette

Help Keep Kids From Becoming Cyberbullies

Mom and daughter looking at tablet in the kitchen
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Today's teens spend a lot of time online. Consequently, it is vital that parents teach their kids how to behave and treat others while online. Failing to do so, can lead to kids abusing technology, harassing others, or even put them at risk for cyberbullying.

No parent wants to discover that their child is cyberbullying, others nor do they want to learn that their child is being victimized. But cyberbullying prevention requires more than just teaching kids to be nice online.

Instead, parents need to have regular conversations with their kids about online safety, cyberbullying and digital etiquette. In fact, equipping kids with digital etiquette skills can go a long way in preventing them from becoming cyberbullies. It also can help them maintain a positive online reputation.

Kids are more likely to behave properly online when they know what is expected of them. So, it is important to invest some time into teaching them about digital etiquette

Apply the Golden Rule

Almost everyone is familiar with the "golden rule." But sometimes kids need to be reminded of the importance of treating others how you want to be treated, even online. Remind them that it is always best to discuss sensitive or potentially volatile issues with the person directly, rather than posting something online or sending a hurtful e-mail. Also, discuss what a healthy friendship looks like and be sure they know this applies to online communication as well.

Be Positive and Truthful

Encourage kids to censor their messages and posts to be sure they are not sarcastic, negative, or rude. They also should avoid posting anything that is not true such as rumors or gossip. Kids also should know what cyberbullying is and that they should never engage in that type of behavior. Meanwhile, help them recognize if they are being victimized.

Re-Read Before Posting

Teaching kids to slow down and think about their posts, comments, texts, and e-mails is crucial. They need to realize that once they press send, there is no way to take back their words. Even if they delete a post later, it still can remain available for others to see, especially if someone took a screenshot. Encourage them to always read their messages, comments, and posts several times to see if they could be misinterpreted or if they come off sarcastic.

Kids also need to realize that being funny online is very hard to accomplish. The person on the other end cannot see their facial expressions or hear their tone of voice. Sometimes a message that is meant to be funny does not come off that way at all. As a general rule, they may want to avoid making jokes online.

Keep a Friend's Confidence

Today's world is saturated with photos, texts, and videos that can be posted, copied, forwarded, downloaded, and altered in a matter of minutes.

Encourage your kids to ask themselves how they would feel if one of their most embarrassing moments was put on display for the world to see.

Remind your kids to think about what they are about to post. They should ask themselves the following questions: Did my friends tell me this in confidence? Will it embarrass them? Will sharing this information compromise their privacy or stir up drama?

If they answer yes to any of those questions, they should keep the information to themselves. After all, that is what a good friend would do. Another good rule of thumb is to always ask permission before posting a picture of someone.

Avoid Digital Drama

Instant messaging, texting, and posting comments online are all "in-the-moment" communication. This is part of the attraction for kids because it keeps them connected to friends when they cannot be there in person. But learning to exit a conversation when things are getting rude or mean is essential.

To do that, kids may have to sign off instant messaging, not respond to a rude text, or refrain from posting a comment on Facebook or Instagram.

Teach kids that no good will come from sending a nasty response or making a negative comment. It is better just to exit the conversation and if need be, discuss the situation in person.

A Word From Verywell Family

Remember, teaching kids how to interact online is an ongoing process and not just a one-time conversation. It also involves more than just listing a set of rules.

Teaching digital etiquette requires parents to engage with their kids on a regular basis and use real-life situations as learning experiences. It also requires parents to be aware of what their kids are doing online and to guide them when things seem to be getting off track.

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