A friend was narrating an incident with me that had occurred in her house about her 13 year old continually texting while having dinner. Despite repeated requests which progressively grew sterner; the teen took a peek now and then at her phone kept by her plate, oblivious to the conversation around her. Frustrated by her defiance, her Dad picked up the phone and threw it away. The enraged child shouted, “What’s wrong with my texting while eating when you do it yourself? It’s OK for you to reply to your messages but not for me?”
“Don’t confuse your socializing with my work. My messages are important.”
“And mine aren’t?” With that she stomped off to her room.
My friend was relating her woes on having a rebellious teen at home but its apparent to a third party that there is another vital message hidden here.
Practice what you preach.
If you do not want your kids to pick up the bad manners of texting while in company or at the dinner table, set an example for them to emulate. Refrain from doing it yourself.
Being a parent involves a lot of sacrifice, one of which is to modify your own behavior, so that your children automatically learn good manners from childhood. The amount of time we spend online has necessitated that we know and observe good manners online. There is a proper way to conduct yourself in the virtual world, with a set of Dos and DON’Ts. The aggregate of these is called Internet etiquette- which gives us our social code of the internet.
I strongly believe that just as we teach kids good hygiene and table manners, it’s our duty to teach them good net etiquette. Good manners are universally admired and win brownie points, plus they will go a long way in keeping kids safe online.
Here are some tips on what constitute net etiquette:
- Read the T&Cs carefully when you sign up on a forum or networking sites. Some sites don’t allow sharing of content. You must respect their policies
- Be a positive contributor to the sites you sign up on. Do not drive negative comments.
- Handle issues in a mature manner. Don’t be instigated by others to indulge in rudeness or get caught up in a war of words. It will do nothing to assuage your anger or salvage your ego but would instead provide entertainment to the public.
- Check before you hit ‘send’. Thoroughly read your e-mail and check for spelling errors, correct email id, obscurities in language and the signature used.
- Be on your best behavior online, you are with strangers. Remember body language plays no role here and so you will be judged by your words alone. Be controlled in your choice of words.
- Be diplomatic and do not show attitude. So don’t be rude, offensive, argumentative or condescending. If you have any ire, comment on it generally.
- Generally stay off subjects that may spark off debates on sensitive issues, unless the people involved are personally known to you
- Don’t write in caps, it is akin to shouting in real life
- It is extremely offensive to your friends to have you sharing their personal information with others without their prior consent
- Same goes for tagging in photos shared online
- Don’t you hate it when you get forwards that have long list of addresses or mail trails attached? This is another no-no
- Let celebs be. Don’t harass them with friend requests, for that’s unlikely to happen. Join their fan page, if you want
- Honesty is the best policy. Do not lie about your age, qualifications or interests online for there can be consequences you never expected. Also stick to facts else you might be charged with fact-falsifying or spreading rumours
- When people you are not close to are having a conversation, don’t force yourself on them, unless you have something of significance to contribute
- Don’t help spread Spam by clicking on accompanying links.
The long and short of it is STOP.THINK.CONNECT. Remember this and you will be a model netizen.
Let us each be a practitioner of net etiquette. We owe that to our kids.