Manners Matter: Practicing good ‘netiquette’

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Erik Hersman

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Erik Hersman

Welcome back, readers. I’ve seen it all on Facebook recently: everything from profanity to insulting a baby’s looks to unsolicited, unhelpful advice in threads.

Because of this, I have decided to write a much-needed “Netiquette Guide.”

The Internet and other social media outlets allow us to have a feeling of anonymity.

I once had a very good friend tell me to never email or text something you would not want printed on the front page of the newspaper. That advice really stayed with me. I am careful and always think before posting, texting and typing.

Online etiquette

With each new piece of digital technology, communication is becoming faster, easier and more accessible to children and adults.

Parents might feel they need new rules for every piece of new technology. I have a surprise for you: The same rules of basic etiquette and good manners still apply.

Keep it simple; the age-old golden rule to treat others as you would like to be treated is very much relevant when teaching your child the importance of online etiquette.

Respect and consideration

Before typing or texting, ask yourself: How would I feel if someone sent that to me?

Remember to be empathetic. When you are in the comfort of your own home, it can be hard to sympathize with someone miles away who is ranting about their awful day online.

You have two choices: Block the person if they frequently post negative things that provoke you to respond in an ill-mannered way or try to say something positive and encouraging to make their day better.

Remember: If you have nothing positive or nice to say, then it is perfectly fine to say nothing at all. You cannot undo a mean; hurtful comment once you send it. And, with the Internet, it is out there for all to see.

Only type or text words that you would say to someone’s face. When staring at a screen, it can be easy to forget there is an actual person interacting with you. Be courteous, respectful and kind.

Accountability for your actions

When creating a profile or new account for social media outlets, use your real identity. If I see names like sexykitty, candyluver or partyguy, I do not connect to them.

I want to know who my children and I are interacting with online. This not only holds them accountable to me but also reminds me that I am accountable for what I say to them.

Remember: You are not as anonymous as you think. The virtual world affects your real world. If you post inappropriate things or defame someone publicly, it could jeopardize your future.

Employers are not only conducting background checks and interviewing prospective employees. They are also looking applicants up online. They might choose to hire you or not hire you based on what they find.


The Girl Scouts have an online etiquette quiz for girls ages 10 to 12.

There are do’s and don’ts when you communicate online, and a lot of the don’ts can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and gossip. You’ll BFF (Be a Friend First) when you really think about what your texts, tweets, and Facebook posts say about you and the people you care about. Take this quiz to learn more about being a good friend online, and see how much you really know about cyberbullying.

Take the quiz here.

Heidi Thomas

Heidi Thomas is a certified etiquette trainer from Sparkle and Shine Modeling and Etiquette program at GYDance. For more information on Thomas and the program, visit Greater York Dance's website,

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1 Response

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