Teaching your kids internet etiquette is probably one of the most important steps you can take to prevent future problems from arising from their internet usage.
Your kids are probably more familiar with netiquette than you are, but this brief primer is a good refresher for the whole family.
Keep in mind that netiquette might vary somewhat depending on the group, but in general, there are some things we can all do to prevent misunderstandings online.
- Think before you post. Remember that although you're seeing a computer screen, you're really interacting with a person. It seems simple, but kids who have grown up online sometimes forget this. Ask yourself "would I say this to the person's face?".
- Online behaviour should be simliar to real-life behaviour. This basically means that your behaviour should be ethical and of course, law-abiding. This also includes respecting someone else's privacy (and yours too!). Also, everyone was new to the web once, so be forgiving of newbie mistakes. You can point out errors to them in a private message or email rather than publicly.
- Lurk before you leap. Remember that what is acceptable in some places is not acceptable in others. Before you contribute, surf the site and pay attention to the type of interaction that is commonly used.
- Respect other people's time and bandwidth - both are limited. Don't expect immediate answers to your questions. Don't keep re-posting information that is already available - use the Search function first!
- Make a good impression! People online don't know you yet, so make a good first impression by using proper grammar and spelling. Be polite! Also, don't contribute to flame wars. Flaming (posting an emotionally-based post that is often hostile and not very tactful) although it has its place, often ends up as a series of posts between two people. This is better done over chat/email and not in front of the whole group.
- Share! Post about things you know about and direct people to reputable resources. They'll appreciate it! Be open to other people's ideas and some good debate!