Social Media Manners

Mind your texts and tweets

As parents, we spend a great deal of time teaching our kids the old school manners of respect, consideration, honesty, kindness, making good choices, and of course we remind them of common courtesies such as saying “please” and “thank you.” We want our children to learn how to act appropriately in social situations and understand the importance of making a positive first impression.  Today though, because of technology and cell phones, we must also teach our children how to behave on social media, as well as remind them that their actions can have a lasting impact on their current relationships, as well as their future.

This is a subject that’s on all of our minds, especially mine because I’m the parent of two teenagers.  I am also the Director for the National League of Junior Cotillions, an Etiquette school in the Haymarket/Gainesville area.  Our program has recently been updated to include a class on social media and cell phone etiquette, and the response from parents has been overwhelmingly positive. We don’t allow phones in our classes and encourage face-to-face interaction because it builds a bond of trust that digital communication simply cannot.

Don’t get me wrong, I have accepted and embraced social media. I use Facebook for my business and have started learning and using other social platforms to keep up with my teens. But I do believe we need to be a little more vigilant in guiding our children, and part of that vigilance includes watching our own behavior on social media and thinking about the example we are setting for our kids.

There’s never been a better time than right now to call a family meeting and begin a conversation with your children about social media manners and remind them about their choices, impact and responsibility. In short, we need to teach them to mind their texts and tweets:

TREAT OTHERS WITH RESPECT
Be kind and considerate in person and online.
Avoid gossip. Speaking negatively about others is never acceptable.

THINK BEFORE YOU TEXT OR POST
If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t text or post it.
Get permission before sharing pictures or videos.
Texting does not replace talking. Always cool down and work things out in person if angry with a friend.

DON’T TEXT IN FRONT OF OTHERS
Engage with others and be present.

Tips for Parents:

MANAGE TOGETHER
Encourage your child to practice managing the use of their devices.
Partner with your children to monitor and set limits on apps, cell phones, etc.

CREATE DEVICE FREE ZONES
Dinner tables, cars, restaurants, etc.

STAY SAFE ONLINE
Encourage kids to avoid conversations online with people they don’t know, and deny unsolicited friend requests.
Keep up with their passwords and monitor online activity.

SOCIAL MEDIA MANNERS ARE FOR EVERYONE
Make your digital footprint a positive one.
Encourage and practice face-to-face communication and remember to set a good example.

Kathleen Geneva
About Kathleen Geneva 1 Article
Kathleen Geneva is a licensed Etiquette and Cotillion Instructor with the National League of Junior Cotillions (Prince William and Fauquier County Chapters) and the Emily Post Institute. She was recently awarded the Best New Director of the Year by the National League of Junior Cotillions. Kathleen is also the mother of two tech-savvy teens, and a new contributor to Lifestyle. Look for her column in future issues!

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