Ever since Christmas my mom has been on my mind. We lost her last year so this was our first Christmas without her. Our traditional formal Christmas dinner was not the same without her. Even though it is quite out of fashion now, my mother insisted on setting a proper table and sitting down with her family at least once a year. When she was a girl, manners mattered and it was something she insisted passing on.
I know that sounds like a strange thing to bring up but when I was asked to give a talk to parents about Internet safety for their teens, she was all I could think about. Internet etiquette is sorely lacking and it is because parents are not teaching their children as they should.
Especially when it comes to Internet safety, having manners—knowing how and what to say; when to say it; and to whom—can go a long way to keep our teenagers safe. I encouraged parents to help their teens understand their online activities become a digital resume of sorts. And, that resume of their online activity will impact their future. Colleges and employers are looking at those digital resumes and making decisions based on what they find. Parents should be helping their teens understand the adage “Once it is online, it is forever.”
If You Can’t Say Something Nice
As you talk to your teen about staying safe on their cellphones and tablets remember teaching them to avoid disclosing personal details is no longer enough. Unfortunately, too many teenagers are using the Internet as a forum to bully other teens. We must do a better job of teaching our teens the rules of civil discourse. The Internet is a modern marvel. However if we insist on trying to convince our teens it is full of danger we are doing them a huge disservice. The overwhelming majority of the Internet is a wealth of information and the Internet should remain a positive source of information for everyone. Civics is rarely taught in school therefore it should be taught at home. We are all responsible for maintaining the Internet.
The Difference Between Safe And Wise
Teaching our teens to take their digital imprint seriously is crucial for their future. Parents who accept the responsibility to remind their teens to have good manners have little reason to be worried for their teens’ future. Toward the end of my remarks I gave the audience a small assignment. I asked them to go home and do an Internet search with their teens. The two phrases I asked them to look up were “How to use the Internet safely” and “How to use the Internet wisely.” I assure the difference is eye opening and definitely slanted toward the Internet being unsafe. If we cannot find resources about how to apply etiquette to our online activity, then it is certain our teens cannot find it either. Just teach them to be nice and learning to be wise will come right along with it.