online manners

Teaching Kids Online Manners

There’s much debate around monitoring children online. Primarily, there are two camps – one that promotes vigilant monitoring and another that promotes a more laissez faire approach. Both have merit, to me. But a lot of the talk ignores the child in the situation and what they say online, not just what is said to them.

Be An Example
It came to mind enormously recently, as I watched someone rant on Twitter to a brand, quite rudely, I might add. They were immediately demanding and belligerent, over something like a salad. Something tells me they’d forgotten that, behind the handle, there was a human. I giggled at their ridiculous statement and abuse of exclamation marks and…of course, my kid asked me what I was laughing at. So I told her.

Manners are not just for real life
Manners are something every parent is hellbent on teaching their children. We raise our children, hoping that they’ll remember their “please” and “thank you” at the appropriate times. We endorse and imbue a sense of personal responsibility into them, and we try very hard to teach our kids that it’s not polite to snatch. Why then, when we, the adults, go online, do we forget all those manners that we’re trying to teach our kids?

online manners

Grand dissonance
If there is one simple fact that keeps me from lashing out at someone online nowadays, with or without reason, it’s this: My child will read this some day. Maybe not today, or within the next week, but it could (and probably will) happen. We’re putting out 140 characters into the public domain that’s attached to our names and may just appear in search results attached to our name one day. So while we’re trying to determinedly to teach little Bob to ask for something politely, we’re yelling at someone online for not liking the same sports team as us.

Your kids will read that one day
Our children learn about online interactions through experience, but also, hopefully, through us. So while we may add them as a friend on Facebook, we have to remember that this means they’ll see how we interact. And if there’s one thing we know about children, it’s that they’ll emulate their parents in some way.

Be Nice First
Of course, we do experience frustration online. I’m not against legitimately ranting it out, at all. But there’s a rule we should follow (and that we hope our kids will too, in real life and within the online world too) – it’s “be nice first”. Let’s try that, and remember, your kids will read that some day.

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