Smart Parenting: Good Manners on Social Media
*Back again to share more of her awesomeness with us is my dear friend Eileen from Calandro Consulting. To see Eileen’s past guests posts go here. Eileen specializes in consulting kids and parents about the ins and outs of using social media responsibly. Each week she shares some pretty amazing information with us! Today she stresses the importance of using good manners on social media, something that we should all be doing!
If we got the good fortune to meet face-to-face, I’d walk up to you, look at your face, smile, say, “Thanks for meeting up with me!” and shake your hand.
Let’s say we met up outside and walked into a coffee shop to continue our conversation – I would hold the door open for you and patiently wait in line to order my coffee. Heck, I’d probably offer to buy your beverage because I’m so happy to meet you!
This sounds like a pleasant interaction, doesn’t it? My actions could be labeled as using good manners. We know what this looks like: saying please and thank you, holding the door open for others, not cutting in line, and looking people in the eye when they talk to you. All but the first action listed here (please and thank you) need to happen in real life for these good manners to exist.
But what about online manners? These exist, too, they just look different.
Do you have a friend who’s fabulously connected and caring in real life and they text you and you get absolutely no positive feelings from them at all? I have one. It took me a long time of texting back and forth to learn that’s just how they behave in a text-only environment. They’re not being rude. They’re just all business and don’t have emojis on their phone. (What?!? How do they even text that way?) Now I get it, but at first, our communications needed some in-real-life clarification.
Because all our interactions on social media lack an opportunity for body language, it’s easy to come across as rude online. This can create problems and misunderstandings -especially for kids who aren’t as experienced with good manners in real life. Take away the ability to read visual cues about intent and there’s a lot of room trouble.
Just like we teach our kids please and thank you and other countless habits of good manners, online and social media manners need to be taught and enforced with our kids as well.
In the parenting classes I teach and the assemblies I conduct with students about digital citizenship, I talk about online manners. For lack of a better name, I call them “Rules of P” because every item (but one) starts with the letter P. I’ve created the list and changed it over the years to make sure certain items get included.
“Rules of P” for Good Manners On Social Media
Photos: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should post all those photos. Think about what you’re saying about yourself and others around you when you put a photo online. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. Employers and colleges look at online profiles and make decisions based on what they see. And remember -snaps CAN be stored and saved to be seen again. Are you posting a photo to make others feel left out or bad about themselves? Find another way to spend your time and energy. Negativity online hurts and can cause serious harm. Stay away from hurting others with photos you publish.
Privacy: Respect it for others and for yourself. Maybe that person or child in the background (or your friend in a group photo) doesn’t want to be seen in your photo. Posting photos of others is fine if it’s fine with them. Check with others first before posting on social media, especially photos of other people’s kids. And don’t post anything with your personal information on it. Sure, you’re soooooo excited you got your license! But posting a selfie holding that life-changing piece of paper up close to your smiling face offers WAY TOO MUCH personal information. Be smart. Keep private information private.
Persona: What are you saying about yourself based on what you put online? Are you working to make others feel bad about themselves? Are you boasting about yourself? Are you helping people with your posts? What you say on social media says a lot about who you are. Make sure it’s giving the impression you want and especially one you can live with for a loooooooong time.
Profanity: Simple: don’t use it! Language can be creative and colorful without using words your grandmother doesn’t want you to say. (And if Grandma’s facebook language would be rated R, have her take a look at this post.)
Poverty (or Prosperity): Posting about others who struggle financially or in other ways to make fun of them or make others laugh isn’t a positive way to use the powers of social media. On the other side of this, posting about how much money you have or how much things cost can seem rude or boastful. I say “always use your powers for good” and this goes a long way on social media.
Politics: We live at a time when our country faces extremes in political viewpoints and posting about these views online is a blessed freedom of our country. If you choose to do it, be prepared for what can happen in the conversation. I’ve seen comment streams deteriorate at top-speed and seen friendships get destroyed by online conversations. If you can handle it, go for it! If you’re not sure how a conversation could turn, keep the conversations to the Thanksgiving dinner table.
and one R: Religion: Similar to posting about politics online, posting about religion can cause strong feelings to come up in a conversation. If you’re ready for this, put it on social media. If it causes a problem for you, can I do my “told-you-so” dance and post it online? (Take a look at the Persona rule -you know I wouldn’t do that!) Seriously, though, we have the freedom to talk about religion, but is it the best idea to have this conversation online with everyone in our newsfeed? You can decide.
So there’s the list. I’ve written it from the perspective of a parent and also for anyone. Help your kids to know about these items. Or use this list as a guideline to create rules for your family and then follow them to set a good example. Our children may not always listen to what we say, but they definitely watch what we do.
Do I always follow these rules? I’ll be honest and say I didn’t. I behaved differently online in the past than I do now. I’ve learned a lot from teaching my classes and working in social media as a community manager (You know I used to do that, don’t you? Well, I did. I used to get paid to talk online on behalf of companies. Yup. I got paid to talk, can’t you tell?) and it’s changed my online behavior. I say knowledge is power and I’m happy to pass this on to you and your families to help you get smart about social media with your kids. -Thank you for the opportunity, Keri Lyn!
Do you have something to add to the list of good social media manners? (And does it start with the letter P?!?) Let me know. Most importantly, do you have a different name for what I could call these rules? I’d love to hear it! I’m not a fan of the name I’ve given this list and I welcome your help with a different one.
Keep being awesome, connected parents, all of you. It takes us working together to make sure our kids stay safe online and continue being good digital citizens.
Connect with Eileen
If you are looking to learn more about and to stay up to date on the latest social media happenings and trends, especially where kids are concerned, then I highly encourage you to follow Eileen in social media!