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Teaching Online Writing Etiquette to Teens


Teens don't imagine their life without devices. Spending more than 7 hours in smartphones, they rejoice the benefits of living in the online world up to the limit. But, as we know, pros and cons always go hand in hand:

Cyber addiction, communication with online predators, sexting, cyberbullying, and online deception are among the risks of "living" online. That is why most parents believe their kids should get a smartphone until they are 12. More than that, there's the unspoken rule of not allowing children younger than 13 to join social networks.

However, teens join the online world much earlier than the rules prescribe. (Only 2% of Gen Alpha kids don't use technologies today.) With that said, it is up to us parents to help our children learn online communication basics. Here go some rules of writing etiquette on social media for our teens to keep their nose clean.

1) Friends

Suggest your teen not to "friend" accounts of people they don't know. Sure, it will be challenging for them to do because they want their social media accounts to be popular, with hundreds of subscribers and followers. But do your best to explain there are many trolls, bots, and online predators online, ready to bully, use teens' photos and personal information for personal gain, and lure kids into their trap.

As a responsible parent who follows your teen on Instagram, Facebook, and any other social platform, do your best to control whom they "friend" there. It doesn't mean you should disallow your kid to add new people to contacts; just keep eyes wide open and tell your teen if you notice suspicious accounts in their friend lists.

Encourage a teen to avoid talking to strangers online and getting into chat rooms asking for their confidential information. Even if that person sounds friendly, they still can appear to be a phony.

2) Privacy Settings

Teach a kid to work with privacy settings online. Explain why they should never share a home address, a phone number, and any other personal information, and show what features they should restrict to keep their social media accounts private.

Also, teach them why it's essential to use different usernames and passwords for various social networks. (Many teens use the same info for all their websites, which is disastrous for online
.) Plus, suggest your kid come up with a proper email address for creating their accounts: Later, they may use it for college applications or scholarship opportunities, and silly addresses won't be an appropriate option for this.

3) Reactions

Explain to your teen why they shouldn't be too reactive when it comes to online communication. Sure, celebrity Twitter wars or holly wars on Instagram may be fun to watch, but it's not that funny when it comes to your own social media arguments.

It's tempting to go toe-to-toe online because the consequences seem less immediate from behind a screen. Teach your kid that all their words and actions can be saved and used for later manipulations and attacks. Tell that everything they publish online is traceable, and even if they decide to delete it later, they still create a cyber fingerprint.

Explain that everything your kids say online builds their reputation. Please encourage them to be polite and respect others, not spreading rumors or negative comments. They need to remember they are talking to real people, not screens.

4) Words

Words are the most powerful weapon we can use online. Sharing short stories or personal essays, telling
others about our feelings and worries, writing about other people – every word can do both good and harm. Hasting comments on sensitive topics can ruin reputations, writing with CAPS can misinterpret our message, and posting when we're angry can appear something we'll later regret.

That said, encourage your kid to be friendly online and not to write anything when emotional. Reveal the taboo topics such as religion and politics so they would avoid them in communication. Encourage kids to follow the rule, "If you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all."

5) Pictures

Teach your kids some extra steps to protect their online privacy. Pay their attention to images and other visual content they post.

When using content publishing tools, please encourage them to be careful with location tracking and background images, as it can leave them vulnerable. Tell them not to post too personal or provocative photos online. Share the"Would my gramma approve?" rule with your teen:

Asking this question before posting can save from a social blunder.

6) Sharing

Tell your teen that the information they share in social media feeds works for their overall reputation. Please don't encourage to turn their pages into a tearful diary or an inner monologue: Explain that over-sharing too personal information can play a cruel joke with them.

  • First, it can turn into a weapon for haters to manipulate and bully.

  • Second, it's the quickest way to lose friends and followers.

Social presence is about building a personal brand. And your teens want their brand to be engaging, interesting, and representing their best traits, don't they?

Also, teach the copyright issue to your kids and explain why they can't post others' pictures without permission. Tell that they don't have the right to take a shot of someone and post those pics online, especially if they are inappropriate. (Sure, it would be great to avoid taking inappropriate pictures.)

7) Self-Misrepresentation

Teach your kid to be honest on social media. It's tempting to pretend someone else and steal the credit for others' character traits or achievements, but it can have unpleasant consequences. (As we know, the cat is out of the bag sooner or later.)

In a Word

As far as our kids can't live without the internet and social media, it's parents' and teachers' task to help them learn online etiquette and be responsible usersThe above tips will help you determine the first steps on the way to it.

At the same time, remind your teens that no matter how funny and exciting technologies can be, they will hardly substitute real-life communication. Do your best to get a kid to fall in love with the outside world, encourage them to spend more time with friends and family, and don't allow the online world to replace reality.


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