Teenagers should take the effort to educate themselves on proper “internet etiquette.” This includes the proper use of sending emails, texts and any other form of electronic messaging. Many posts or exchanges online may be accidentally sent or misinterpreted, leaving either sender or receiver embarrassed, humiliated, hurt or harassed.
1. Use Computer Courtesy: Whether a person is sending an email, chatting in a chat room or speaking in a forum, it is important to be courteous and respectful of others online. Simply speaking, Internet users can observe the Golden rule: one should treat others the way he or she would like to be treated. Likewise, just as you treat others with respect in the real world, it is important that you apply these same basic rules online as well.
2. Think Before Posting: It is important to note, what is posted online today, may come back and haunt the writer tomorrow or later in the future. That silly or funny photograph posted on a social networking site may preclude job acquisition for that person years later. Many colleges and employers are now searching social networking sites prior to hiring. Remember, online messages, posts, pictures, or videos, once entered into the Internet, will remain there forever, which can be viewed by a massive and unknown online audience. With cyber bullying, one cannot just turn off the computer and expect everything to return back to normal. Even if the victim disconnects himself from the Internet or other electronic devices, cyber bullying can weave itself back into the victim’s school, workplace, or home environment.
3. Pay Attention to Language Issues: Improper, inappropriate or profane language may cause a participant to be kicked out or permanently banned from a forum or group. It is also important to remember people from other countries may be participating in the conversation and language barriers may be an issue. Many times, individuals can make simple errors or mis-types that can distort their intended message or cast unintended animosity on their delivery. Be aware that mistakes can happen from time to time.
4. Keep Personal Information Private: Posting private and personal information in the wrong location can have serious consequences. Identity theft is a rapidly growing concern. Divulging too much information could give predators and those with bad intentions valuable information. Never give out personal information about yourself or your family and friends, no matter how well you think you know your cyber pals. This includes name, address, telephone number, where you go to school, and even what city you live in. Be careful who you send pictures to, as well as monitor and ensure your password safety. When you post your personal information on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, it is best to restrict your privacy settings so that only your friends can view personal information. If private information is posted in a group setting, read the guidelines prior to posting to ensure that such information will not be disclosed to others.
5. Help New Internet Users: Everyone was an Internet “newbie” at one time. Many children and teen users that gain access to social networking sites, electronic devices, or the Internet for the first time are unaware about how dangerous these devices can be if abused or used inappropriately. Although it is normal to be excited about connecting with all of your friends and classmates online, please be mindful of the fact that there are others on the Internet that abuse their privileges.
- You’ve been told “don’t talk to strangers.” Well, people you meet on the Internet are strangers. Other than friends you know in “real life,” people online are not classified as friends.
- Never agree to meet an online friend in person. If someone asks to meet you, talk to your parents about it.
- Do not lie about your age so you can go somewhere on the Internet that is for adults only.
- Passwords must be kept secret from everyone but your parents.
- Do not spend excessive time on the computer. You should partake in other activities, exercise, and set aside time for leisure.
- Something you see on the Internet might make you uncomfortable or confused. Tell your teacher or parent right away.
- Do not do anything on the Internet that may cost money without your parent’s permission. Never give out credit card information.
- If you are upset or angry about something, do not use the Internet to vent your feelings. Go to a friend, a relative, or teacher you are comfortable talking to instead.
6. Be Aware of Cyber Bullying – Cyber bullying or electronic bullying continues to be an increasing problem. Especially in many modernized country such as the United States, where technology is rapidly becoming an integral part of our society today, more and more people are possessing phones and computers. Kids are exposed to and acquire technology at earlier and earlier ages. With so many people online, there is undoubtedly a dramatic rise of cyber bullying incidents throughout the US and even the world. Cyber bullying is actually more common than teens think. Many teens do not realize, that many of their peers around them are experiencing cyber bullying as well.
7. Educate Yourself About Cyber Bullying – It is important, and in some cases required, that each school educates its students and staff on a regular basis regarding the nature and consequences of, and prohibitions and penalties associated with, all forms of cyber bullying, and even bullying, so that constant and updated awareness of the problem is promoted. Education should occur through the attendance of training workshops and seminars, as well as formalized continuing education initiatives for all members of the school community. Educate yourself on cyber bullying prevention strategies!
8. Be An Active Bystander: Bystanders play a key role in stopping and preventing cyber bullying. Cyber bullies depend on bystanders to support them or do nothing to stop them. The real leaders are those who choose to take an active role when they witness bullying and decide not go along with the crowd.
- If you witness cyber bullying, do not join in, nor stand by idly.
- Document if you see cyber bullying online, and when
- Don’t encourage the behavior, it is easy to fall under the peer pressure, but stand up for yourself!
- Don’t forward hurtful messages
- Don’t laugh at inappropriate jokes
- Tell an adult they trust
- Do not support cyber bullies, stand up for what is right and report cyber bullying cases to reliable sources – “report center”.
- Educate yourself on effective preventative measures you can take
9. Do Not Spend So Much Time At The Computer: Excessive use of the computer is highly detrimental. Try to limit your computer time, to a suitable and reasonable amount. It is important not to lose a sense of reality. Especially if you have feelings of pent up emotion or anger, you should not vent your emotions out online. Assign some much needed periods of time to go for a walk, enjoy the weather, or hang out with friends.