Netiquette Guidelines for Online Learning and Communicating
First, let us look at the definition of netiquette. Netiquette is the correct or acceptable way of communicating on the Internet. The core rules are to remember the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Your written words are read by real people who all are deserving of respectful communication. Before you press send, ask yourself, “Would I be okay with this if someone else had written it?” or “Do I care if a room full of strangers hears these words?”
It’s important to remember netiquette varies from domain to domain. Depending on where you are in the virtual world, the same written communication can be acceptable on one domain, where it might be inappropriate on another. KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE is something that will help you with communication just like if you are in the real world.
You should respect others and make yourself look “good” online. One of the BEST and WORST things about the virtual world is you will be judged on the quality of your writing. Always check for spelling and grammar errors, know what you are talking about, state it clearly and most importantly be polite. Some sites have their own type of language due to limiting text or site terms. Before you participate in a discussion on a new site, take time to research that site’s slang or acronyms.
Don’t abuse your power or feed the flames. If you see a lot of angry posts being exchanged, don’t jump in and be hateful with others even it they reflect your same feelings. Think about how you can respond in a way to make the conversation more productive and extinguish future angry postings. In addition, angry postings usually don’t change people’s minds. As a result, negative posts can close off a conversation that could have ended with a deeper understanding of both sides.
Be forgiving of other people’s mistakes. Not everyone has the same experience in the virtual world. Some people don’t know netiquette. You will see stupid questions, misspelled words, cyber bullying and hate filled comments. If it’s a minor “offense,” you might want to just let it go. If you feel compelled to respond to a mistake, do it in PRIVATE, not on a public forum to avoid cyber bullying. I know I have posted spelling errors in the past and really appreciate a kind private message. I have seen memories pop up about how I felt years ago and don’t feel the same way today. People change all the time.
CONTROL YOUR ZONE
Don’t be afraid to block people. Each domain has different ways for you to snooze, block, hide, report or delete comments. USE THEM. You do NOT have to attend every argument you are invited to. Especially when we know there are trolls who are there just to instigate cyber fights. Think before you respond.
Here is a list of my TOP 5 Netiquette topics I share with kids and adults who are on the internet:
- Cyberbullying is saying something to purposefully scare, injure, or hurt another person or ruining someone else’s reputation.
- RUDE LANGUAGE – Using curse words, or calling names is not using good manners. Dirty jokes are not acceptable. Use kind words.
- CAPITAL LETTERS – USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS IS YELLING!
- Laws – If it is illegal to do it outside the internet, it’s illegal on the internet. Think before you type.
- Sarcasm is a source of plenty of misguided arguments online. What seems like a joke to you is not to others. Be polite, respectful and direct when communicating. Of course, if you are in a private area with someone who knows your personality you can get by with more. Remember to know your audience.
What do you do if you are a victim of cyber attacks or negative comments?
- If it’s a crime, call 911 or if you are a child tell an adult.
- If someone is hopeless or suicidal contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- A child is being bullied in school, contact the teacher, counselor, principal or parent.
- If the school doesn’t respond, contact the superintendent, State Department of Education or Department of Justice.
- If it is offensive, don’t respond. Do report it to the site admin. Block the person and delete comments. You are in control of your zone.
A great interactive learning resource for educators and parents, Sammy’s Guide to Internet Safety. The guide teaches kids how to enjoy the internet safely while providing fun activities and games.