Technology has brought us many new ways to communicate. And while these new forms of communication are great, we need to make sure we are enfolding technology manners into the everyday teachable moments we have with our kids. Why? Because technology manners matter!
Technology is woven into every fabric of our lives. From eLearning to virtual meetings, we are communicating digitally as part of our everyday life more and more. It is important that the manners and simple graces we extend to those in the same physical space with us translate to the digital world.
So, what manners do we need to consider when teaching our kids how to be thoughtful and kind digital citizens?
10 Technology Manners That Matter
You Are the Same Person Online and Offline
Social networks, online gaming platforms, and messaging apps give us the ability to make and stay connected with friends. In other words, they give us an additional way to communicate. They should not give us a means to create a different persona. If people who you see in your physical world do not recognize the person you are online, there is a problem. Be your true self online!
Basic Good Manners Also Apply Online
Technology manners are not in an entirely different category. They all really boil down to respect for self and respect for others. Remember this as an overarching rule and it will cover most of the communication issues you will have online.
Regardless of where you are, be present. If you are playing an online game with your friends, be present. If you are having a family dinner, be present. This does not mean you cannot take a photo at a physical event. But it does not mean you need to be present and actively engaged in the event you are involved in at any given time. A photo is fine while at a family event. An entire 30-minute texting conversation with your friend is not. That is literally like talking loudly on the phone to them in the middle of the event you are taking part in. It is rude.
Use Your Words Wisely
My mom always told me to use my words wisely. Some things might be true, but not all things true need to be spoken. This rule applies even more so to the digital world where text messages are persistent. Consider how your text, post, or email will impact your reader. And consider if you would compose those same words three hours, three days, or three years from now.
Want More Help for Raising Kids in a Digital World? See my Ultimate Technology Book and Podcast List for Parents
Ask Permission to Text
This one may sound a bit old fashioned. In fact, my guess is many people do not consider not asking permission before texting an example of poor technology manners. But we live in a busy world. Most of us are inundated with messages that pull us off task daily. Asking someone’s permission to communicate with them is being respectful of their time and yours.
It is easy to assume everyone wants to communicate in the same manner that we do. But that is not true. It is always best to ask permission. Your teen should ask permission before texting someone for the first time. This is especially true when it comes to employers, teachers, and coaches.
Know When to Silence Your Phone
Silencing your phone at formal gatherings, like religious services, weddings, and funerals is respectful of those around you. Public venues like classrooms, libraries, and theaters are also places where your phone should be silenced.
Mealtimes Should Be Phone Free
Whether you are eating dinner around the family table or at a restaurant, your table should be a phone-free zone.
Do Not Post Limited Invitations Publicly
Social media is public by default, private with effort. Do not post an event you are limiting openly for everyone to see. It is like saying “I’m having a party and you’re not invited.” It is just rude.
Protect the Trust You Have Built with Your Family and Friends
Sharing that funny photo or story might seem like a good idea. But remember, text and photos shared online can be re-shared, copied, forwarded, and downloaded quickly. That original message can amplify at the speed of light! Before posting, ask yourself:
- Will sharing this publicly embarrass my friend?
- Do I have my friend’s permission to share?
- Will sharing this stir up drama or controversy?
Know When to Keep Walking and When to Stand
There is a fine line between avoiding digital drama and feeling like you cannot post an opinion at all. And in our politically charged world where we see an ever-growing cultural divide, it is hard to know when and what to post. It is perfectly fine to share your opinion on things. The key is to do so in a way that shows your support of an issue, not your hatred of a person.
No good ever comes from diving into a nasty social media thread or trying to respond to an inflamed response. If you feel you must share your thoughts with a friend you see struggling, talk to them in person or video chat with them.
Technology brings us new amazing ways to communicate. The manners and simple graces that we extend to those in the same physical space with us translate, with minor adaptations, to the digital world. Incorporate technology manners into the everyday teachable moments with your kids so we raise a generation of kind and thoughtful digital communicators.