When your kid starts spending increasingly more time online, it might make sense to tell him about the rules of the Internet etiquette — or, as they call it, netiquette. These rules are based on peculiarities of virtual communication and ability to manage your own freedom in an infinite space of the Internet.
Every civilized person, no matter how old he is, must know the common rules of conduct, both in real life and online. But when it comes to kids, there are certain nuances to these rules. So before your kid becomes an advanced internet user with established communication style, help him learn more about netiquette.
A little politeness goes a long way
In real life we use the words like “Good day”, “Thank you” and “Please” quite often. But time flies miraculously fast when you’re online, so rules of internet politeness have changed accordingly. Instead of “thank you” you type “thnx” and when you’re amused you type “lol”. Such penury of language becomes normal on the web; online communication often excludes the living word which leads to emotional callousness. There are hardly any parents who don’t want to see their kid smiling as often as possible. But virtual reality dictates its own terms and if you don’t teach your child the right way to communicate with others online, standoffishness and lack of empathy may become ones of his traits.
So how can you do that? Online information is mostly provided in a text-based form, so basically a user is what he writes. Tell your child that communication always has to start with a polite greeting and that he should spare some time to type real words, not acronyms or abbreviations. The same concerns words and phrases like “thank you very much” or “goodbye”. Let your kid know that rudeness and tactlessness don’t look pretty, no matter where he is, and that politeness is always the hottest trend.
When in Rome, do as Romans do
Everybody knows this old proverb, but for some reason, it’s not that popular with the online community. Some users tend to forget that same things are taken differently in different communities. This is why the next netiquette advice you can give your kid is to be circumspective every time he appears in some new areas of virtual space. Your child has to pay much attention to what he reads. Before he gets into some community, he should learn as much as possible about it, read all kinds of discussions in it — and only after that try to express his own opinion (if that’s what he wants to do).
Besides, explain to your kid that it’s not customary to criticize the rules of a group, its style, or create topics irrelevant to the community’s subject matter. He must be aware of the fact that the members who violate the rules of communities get banned (blocked from visiting, reading or posting in the communities).
First impressions are most lasting
Your child has to remember that there are other people talking to him from the other side of the screen. This is why there are two facts that have to be clearly understood. First of all, it’s easy to offend a person when you say something without thinking it over properly. Second, others are not always truthful.
How can netiquette help? Well, they don’t get offended at politeness and besides, being polite, one can keep distance without any detriment to his conversation. The absence of familiarity helps avoid many unpleasant situations, and this especially concerns excessive openness in conversations with strangers. When our kids reach a certain age, they get quite vulnerable and may seek for support of anyone who would listen, no matter how well they know them. Try to help your child avoid situations like this beforehand. Make him understand that the Internet is actually not as anonymous as it may seem that all his actions and words are in full view. Tell him about the importance of protecting his reputation, regardless of what he does.
Talk is silver, silence is golden
Teenagers can’t imagine their lives without social networks. It seems like everything they do is aimed at competing with others, at standing out and proving they are better, in this way or another. Such competitiveness may irritate some parents who prefer to put the blame on the Internet, but this attitude can’t be called a correct one. Teens are trying to find their place in society using the methods they have in store — each of them demonstrates his own skills and achievements and this way compares him to the others. The Internet just helps to do this faster and easier.
While there’s absolutely nothing awful in it, you have to explain to your kid that he shouldn’t attempt to bite more than he can chew or pretend to be someone he is not. And let him know that he must not take to heart every little bit they say to him.
Netiquette for parents
Some time ago teenagers had personal diaries where they described their feelings and experiences. Today they prefer to post photos on Instagram, send messages on Twitter or chat with friends on Facebook. Parents try not to stay behind, create personal accounts and attempt to take an active part in their kids’ social life. As a result, teenagers seem to lose a big part of their personal space as there is nothing their parents can’t see.
If you do want to keep your relationship with your child as warm as possible, never try to meddle in his personal matters online. Yes, of course, you can view photos or read his posts: it’s absolutely okay to be interested in what happens in your kid’s life. However, it’s important to know when to stop. Don’t comment on or like everything your kid posts online and don’t rebuke him for some posts or pics you didn’t like.