When I was a kid, the biggest etiquette issue my Mom had was teaching us to use “please” and “thank you” at the appropriate times. Today, social media is everywhere and it’s important to teach our kids the rules of online etiquette.
Old-Fashioned Etiquette in Today’s Social Media World
It all seemed so simple back then, but when I stop and think of the things I’m teaching my kids now – texting etiquette, commenting on social media, writing a blog post – it all boils down to the same thing…
“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
It really is that simple.
Kindness and respect are the order of the day if we want to do away with cyber bullying. We need to start by teaching our kids that the rules aren’t different just because they’re hiding behind a screen on social media.
It’s Never Too Early To Teach Kids Social Media Safety
Last year, my eight-year-old daughter asked me if she could start a blog, and I let her. Rules were hashed out, guidelines created… overall, it has been quite a wonderful learning experience for her. It has helped expand her writing skills, as well as her understanding of social media etiquette. She also has access to my old laptop, which my husband set up so that she can use it safety (it is effectively “locked down”). When learning to use it, she had a few requests that turned into wonderful teaching moments about online etiquette.
Here are some of the ways we’re teaching our kids how to use social media in a respectful way:
- we’ve introduced messaging/texting only between family members; this ensures a safe space while learning how to communicate appropriately online
- using FaceTime (or skype) with family members helps kids learn about respecting boundaries (i.e. if my daughter calls Grandma at 7am on a weekend, Grandma will ask that she not call until after 9am)
- email is limited to people my husband and I have added to the contact list (family and close friends only); if my daughter wants to send a message to someone else, it gets forwarded to a parent for approval, ensuring that the recipient – and the message my daughter has composed – are both appropriate (if not, then we can discuss).
By taking baby steps, my daughter is learning what’s appropriate to share and that anything she “puts out there” will follow her. I can only hope that, with consistent guidance and common sense, she will leave a digital footprint that she can be proud of.
P.S. You may also want to read this article on The Canadian Mother Resource, by Cathy Thinking Out Loud. Cathy shares her tips, advice (she is a parent of teenagers) and perspective for keeping kids safe… a must-read.