Internet etiquette -- also known as "netiquette" -- refers to appropriate and responsible conduct among Internet users. Parents must monitor their kids' Internet behavior and teach them to be vigilant because predators linger on social media sites and use phones and web cameras to prey on young children, according to U.S. District Attorney Barbara L. McQuade on the Department of Justice's website. Good netiquette also encourages healthy social relationships among your child's peers.
Watch What You Say
Effective communication is necessary for healthy relationships and transmitting information both on- and offline. When kids begin using social media sites, it's likely they are unaware of the nuances in language that can make or break an online conversation. Writing in all caps, for example, should be avoided, suggests licensed social worker Signe Whitson, writing at PsychologyToday.com, because it comes across as being angry or yelling at others. Whitson also suggests that kids refrain from making statements about others on social media sites that they wouldn't say to their faces. Parents should encourage their kids to refrain from calling others names or saying mean things about their classmates and peers on social media sites.
Keep Your Parents in Mind
Parents should be especially mindful to monitor their children's online behavior, recommends doctors Gwenn Schurgin O'Keefe and Kathleen Clarke-Pearson in a 2011 article in the journal "Pediatrics." Whitson suggests parents set boundaries with their kids regarding open access to passwords and examinations of their and their friends' online activity. This enables parents to monitor their children's use, interactions, and overall Internet safety. Parents can also encourage their children to make posts and comments with their parents in mind. Their children should be encouraged to stop and think, "What would my parents think?" when it comes to use of language and appropriate content, suggests Whitson, before posting any comments online.
Think Before You Post
O'Keefe and Clarke-Pearson explain that anything posted on the Internet leaves a "digital footprint." What happens online stays online. Parents should explain to children that their online activity can have repercussions in the future. As parents monitor their kids' social media profiles, they should teach them to be mindful of posting inappropriate pictures, videos and other content that could harm them later. While parents might be especially active in monitoring their older children and preteens' online activity, they might become less involved in closely monitoring their kids' profiles once they become teenagers. As a result, it's helpful for parents to use their children's experiences with social media to prepare them to be more mindful in their teen years.
Refrain From Cyberbullying
A total of 1.5 million pre-adolescents and adolescents were reportedly cyberbullied between 2008-09, according to research by the U.S. Department of Education. O'Keefe and Clarke-Pearson say, "Cyberbullying is deliberately using digital media to communicate false, embarrassing, or hostile information about another person." This includes spreading rumors, threatening or making unwanted contact with someone online. Parents should teach their children that bullying someone on social media or through email is as equally damaging as face-to-face bullying attempts, leaving victims at risk of anxiety, depression and stress-related disorders, reports the KidsHealth website. Parents should also discuss consequences for any cyberbullying behavior, such as immediate removal of their child's social media account.
- Offices of the United States Attorneys: Briefing Room: Child Predators Use Technology to Exploit Children
- Psychology Today: Passive Aggressive Diaries: Teaching Netiquette to Kids
- Pediatrics: The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents and Families
- U.S. Department of Education: Student Reports of Bullying and Cyberbullying: Results from the 2009 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey
- KidsHealth: Cyberbullying
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images