Any form of communication, whether casual or formal, should follow certain etiquette. Given how frequently your teen likely uses digital communication, she should learn a few basic rules regarding the etiquette of conducting herself in a digital era. Disrespecting or ignoring the power and longevity of digital communication can have serious consequences, particularly as your teen enters adulthood. Making good digital etiquette into habit is the easiest way for your teen to keep her digital faux paus to a minimum.
1. What to Share
Teenagers often want to share their lives online through pictures, videos and messages. However, once an image or message is on the Internet, or even sent privately to a friend, it's there forever and she can't control who sees it. An appropriate rule of digital etiquette when it comes to sharing information is never to share what she wouldn't want a prospective employer to see. This is especially important since many companies do check the social network sites of candidates they're considering.
2. Watch Where You Comment
It's much easier to link a nasty or inappropriate comment signed by a seemingly discreet username than your teenager might think. For this reason, your teen should never leave hurtful, derogatory or otherwise nasty comments on message boards or video platforms, such as Youtube, and certainly never on another person's social networking website, according to a New Yorker article about Daniel Post's new book, “Emily Post’s Manners in a Digital World: Living Well Online." Just like other social etiquette, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
3. Respect the Privacy of Others
Your teen should never share or post information or images of a friend without that person's permission. News that seems celebratory or even inconsequential can still be private, and sharing it freely, or even only with her social networking friends, can cause problems for whomever the information or image references. The same etiquette principle applies to information about siblings, parents and extended family. Good etiquette says she shouldn't share news or information about anyone besides herself, and the same is true in the digital world.
4. Turning it Off
Your teen may be so used to texting or messaging 14 of her 15 waking hours that she doesn't realize it's inappropriate to continue this behavior during dinner or when friends are visiting. Even if she's just hanging out with her peers, constantly texting, messaging and checking statuses in the presence of others is disrespectful and dismissive. If she needs to communicate via text, email or message, she should excuse herself from the room and return only when she's completed her business.
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