Cyberbullying is a growing problem now that so many kids have access to the Internet on a regular basis. Kids now use the Internet for school, as well as on their various devices in their leisure time. In fact, 94% of children ages 12 to 17 use the Internet. Due to the anonymity of the Internet, it is easier for kids to bully other kids online.

As parents, it is important to monitor your child’s activity online; however, you can’t always be standing over your child’s shoulder while he is using the Internet. For those situations when you can’t be there, it is important to teach your children proper netiquette for kids to ensure they know the right way to act while they are online.

Proper Netiquette for Kids

Teaching kids proper netiquette (internet etiquette) is crucial for their online safety and responsible digital citizenship. Here are some guidelines to help children navigate the internet with good manners and safety in mind:

Netiquette Rules: Never Share Personal Information

One of the most important things kids should know about using the Internet is to never reveal personal information online. It is okay for a child to give his first name, but that should be the extent of the personal information.

Predators online will lull children into a false sense of security and begin asking them for more and more personal information, starting with the general area in which they live and continuing on to ask for more information. Eventually, these predators hope to obtain the last name, exact address, and age. If you train your children to never provide this information online, even to people they know, it will go a long way in protecting them from these predators.

Netiquette Rules: Think Before You Post

Children often get in the most trouble when they speak before they really think about it, just like when they are face-to-face with their friends. This is why it is important to teach your kids to think about what they are posting so they can avoid posting something they will regret later. If they are angry with someone or feeling hurt by someone else, they should take some time before they post to the other person. In addition, it is important for them to really think about the exact wording of what they are right because tone cannot often be conveyed properly online, easily causing misunderstandings.

Netiquette Rules: The Problem with Pictures

In general, the pictures children and teenagers post on their online social media profiles and other sites are harmless in nature. To avoid issues, some parents restrict the pictures their children post, sometimes even banning pictures of themselves altogether. One of the biggest problems today, though, is sexting.

Many teenagers are being coerced into sending naked pictures of themselves through private messages and text messages as a way to please a boyfriend or girlfriend. Unfortunately, this still qualifies as child pornography and can get the sender and anyone who receives it in serious trouble with the law. For this reason, it is critical for parents to make sure their children understand the severity of taking part in this type of behaviour. When teenagers are involved in sexting, it can follow them with negative consequences for the rest of their lives.

Netiquette Rules: Avoid Passing on Rumors

Gossip has long been a problem in life. This is no less of a problem when it comes to the Internet either, though it often comes in many forms. In fact, some of these forms aren’t really gossip at all, but they are no less annoying. For instance, there are many emails that are always in circulation, being forwarded from person to person. While these emails are generally harmless, it is important to talk to your child about showing restraint when it comes to forwarding these emails.

Many people become annoyed at receiving them so children should only forward them if they are meaningful to them. In addition to not forwarding all emails to friends, it is best to think before you talk about something someone else told you. Spreading rumours online is a form of cyberbullying and can cause hurt feelings and other issues.

Netiquette Rules: Don’t Get Involved with Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a growing problem because it isn’t something that can easily be stopped. When children are hiding behind the Internet, they seem to think they can do or say anything because there is no accountability. The other person isn’t likely to know who they are. Likewise, when children witness this behaviour going on around them, they are less likely to do something about it because they don’t directly know the people involved.

Teaching your children how to deal with cyberbullying, such as reporting it to the proper people and not participating in the behaviour, can go a long way toward cutting down on the amount of bullying that occurs online.

Netiquette Rules: Double Check Your Privacy Settings

Many children seem to think they are perfectly safe when they are online. Unfortunately, there are many dangers that lurk on the Internet, many of which are hidden from clear view. This is why it is so important for your children to use their security settings properly, especially on social media sites like Facebook.

However, because children aren’t likely to know exactly how to set up their privacy settings properly, parents need to go through their accounts with them and make sure their activity can’t be found by predators and others who shouldn’t see it.

You should also teach your children that nothing they post on the Internet is completely private. Therefore, they need to watch what they post, even when they are using private messages, because they can’t be sure someone won’t share the information.

Netiquette Rules: Know the Rules

Many parents set up their own netiquette for kids and expect their children to follow it. This is a great idea for any parent who will be allowing their child to spend time online, whether supervised or unsupervised. However, your rules aren’t the only ones your child will have to learn and follow.

Many websites have their own terms and conditions that users are required to follow or they risk termination of their right to use the site. When your children join a new website, it is essential to make sure they understand all the rules and conditions that go along with it. They should also understand the consequences if they don’t go along with those rules. Breaking rules on a site can lead to a permanent ban from that site, limiting their chance to participate.

Netiquette Rules: Treat Others with Respect

Hiding behind the guise of the Internet is no excuse to treat others rudely or to be mean to others. Never post in all caps because this is considered shouting and will be seen as rude and disruptive by many of the other people who are using the site. You should also talk to other people as you would expect them to talk to you.

This means do not use crude language or swear, and don’t pick a fight or pick on someone who said or did something you don’t agree with. The golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you should apply to the online world, just like it does in the real world. The more respect you give to others, the more respect you will receive in return.

Netiquette Rules: Keep Everyone’s Privacy

You may have already covered protecting their own privacy from others, but it is also important for your children to understand the importance of protecting other people’s privacy as well. If a friend, either in real life or online, confides something in you, your child should know better than to spread that information to anyone else.

In addition, if an online persona is asking questions about someone your child knows in real life, your child should not reveal anything personal about that friend. That friend may be doing everything he can to protect his own privacy. Your child has no right to breach that privacy.

Netiquette Rules: Don’t Steal Content

There are many illegal programs out there that will allow people to download software, music, movies and more without paying for them. These activities are illegal, but they aren’t always easy for the proper authorities to keep up with. If your child encounters any of these sites, it may be tempting to download just one or two things.

After all, what could the harm possibly be? They aren’t the only people who are doing it. Unfortunately, if your child is caught taking part in these activities, there can be dire consequences that will follow him for the rest of his life. It is best to pay for all content to avoid the potential for legal trouble down the road.

Netiquette Rules: Learn and Use Smileys

You have likely seen the fun emoticons that are popping up everywhere. Each of these emoticons symbolizes a different facial expression and feeling. When children are typing messages out online, it can often be difficult to differentiate the exact tone of the post. This is where emoticons can become a useful tool.

When your children learn what they mean and how to use them correctly in their online speech, they can more easily portray what they are trying to say without misunderstanding the message. However, it is also important to realize that some people will use the smiley emoticon after saying something mean or nasty in an attempt to look as if they are joking. This is a misuse of smileys and a breach of netiquette for kids.

Netiquette Rules: Put Your Best Foot Forward

It is true that the Internet provides you with some level of anonymity. You can be anyone you would like to be. While honesty is still important online, just like it is in your real life, you need to be sure you create a positive persona for yourself online. Always treat others with the respect you would like for yourself and portray yourself as a caring, fun human being. People are going to judge you online, just like they do in real life. You can work hard to make sure you only receive positive judgments.

Tips for Proper Netiquette: Help Others

Children shouldn’t be afraid to help others when they are online. Everyone is a newbie at some point, learning the ropes of the Internet in general and websites in particular. Therefore, it is important for your children to learn to reach out to the people who are new to a site and help them learn how to use it properly. Cyber bullies will often target people who don’t seem to know how to follow the rules of a particular site, giving them a hard time about it. Your child can make a real difference by reaching out to these newbies instead and helping them learn so they can go on to help others learn.

There are so many aspects to proper netiquette for kids. As a parent, it is up to you to learn everything you can about it and learn how to teach your children to live by the proper rules. If your children learn how to properly behave online and know what they should or shouldn’t do, they are more likely to become contributing members of the online society. Those children who aren’t well educated in netiquette and the proper behaviour are those who are more likely to become cyber bullies, causing even more trouble for everyone online.

Spread those netiquette tips around and teach those around about those netiquette tips now!