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July 20, 2022

What is Netiquette?

Proper netiquette is important for people of all ages. These tips for parents can help guide kids toward good behavior online.

What is Netiquette?

Because we spend so much time online, it’s important to consider how our online behavior can affect us and the people we communicate with.

When we’re speaking aloud, we usually take time to consider how our words may make others feel. Online communication is largely text based, and it can be easy to forget that there’s a person (or people) beyond our screen reading what we’re typing. Being considerate of others can go a long way, online and in person.

Netiquette, or Internet etiquette, is an ideal pattern of behavior for Internet users, guidelines about what is acceptable in an online medium for personal and professional use. The rules of netiquette apply to web users of any age—just like manners. Parents can teach their children proper netiquette to ensure smooth communication and avoid online misunderstandings.

Kids who have good Internet manners instilled are less likely to participate in abusive, cyberbullying behaviors, and are more likely to be sensitive to the differences and feelings of others.1

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Netiquette Rules

Online etiquette is just as important as face-to-face manners. While there are nuances to communicating online, the golden rule of treating others as you’d like to be treated is always applicable.

These netiquette rules are an excellent guideline for adults and children.

Remember That You’re Talking to Another Person

When you have a conversation with someone, nonverbal communication is just important as the words you say. When you communicate online via text only, you don’t see how the other person is reacting and it can be easy to say something hurtful. Remember that you’re talking to someone with feelings and avoid hurtful language and profanity. Something that might be considered a joke if you say it aloud might be misconstrued when read and taken as an offensive comment.

Choose your words wisely and use respective language. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online.

Respect Others’ Privacy

If a friend tells you something in confidence, don’t share that information with others. Follow this rule online, where friends can share photos, links, and other kinds of personal information. Don’t forward private messages, photos, and information without first checking with the person who shared it. Maintaining trust with your connections is important both online and offline. And remember: Sharing someone’s personal information without their permission can be considered doxing.

Represent Yourself Well

Since so much of your online communication is based in text, what you type and post becomes especially important. Pay attention to the content of your posts. It can be tempting to post inflammatory comments on a message board or in a chat room, but the Internet is forever. Keep in mind that flame wars, swearing, and content intended to cause controversy is considered poor netiquette. If anything, do your best to keep online drama to a minimum and do your part to keep flame wars under control.

If you’re a member of an online message board or forum, there are typically moderators in place to make sure that everyone is playing nicely and adhering to whatever rules are in place. For example, a popular forum site has a content policy in place that allows moderators to restrict the access of people who post inflammatory or harmful content. In some cases, users may even be banned from the site. Social media sites employ an administrative team who work to ensure that content posted is not overly aggressive and may restrict posting access for those who break the rules.

Content matters online. Since you’re not interacting face to face, your content is all another person has available to form an impression or an opinion.

Share Information Wisely

You shouldn’t share inaccurate information—no matter where it originated. Make sure you’re sharing content from factual websites and articles. Do a quick web search to verify the contents of an article before sharing it. Not only will this help you to be able to spot fake apps and fake news, but by fact-checking what you post, you’ll help to build others’ trust in you.

Keep the spam to a minimum

You don’t need to forward every chain email you receive or share every article you read on social media. Focus on meaningful content and real connections, rather than sharing for the sake of sharing. A common social engineering scam is to attach a virus to an email in hopes that it will be widely circulated. If you share an email containing a virus with your friends, you friends may stop opening your emails at all.

“Netiquette can seem like an abstract concept, but the important thing to remember is to treat people with kindness and respect.”

Respond promptly

Show courtesy to your friends, family, and coworkers by responding in a timely manner. Avoiding a message can lead to unnecessary stress for someone who is waiting for a response. A good rule of thumb is to respond to instant message communications first, emails second.

Netiquette can seem like an abstract concept, but the important thing to remember is to treat people with kindness and respect. Adults should always practice good online etiquette and parents should instill this behavior in their children.

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