Chapter One The Importance of Good Online Etiquette

E verybody enjoys being appreciated and respected. As a teenager, your ability to present yourself in a positive way will have a dramatic impact on the way others see you. In other words, if you want to be respected, be respectful. If you want to be treated fairly, treat others fairly. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you . This is the Golden Rule —no wonder it has been around for centuries! Most of us spend a lot of time on our phones, tablets, and computers. Of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Our modern digital age has made it easier to find information about the world we’re living in. The growing online community has also helped us connect with other people on a much larger scale. This allows us to develop personal and professional relationships with others in a way that people from generations ago never could have done. How Often Are You Online? According to data collected by the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media, the average teen spends about 6 hours per day using digital screen media, which includes things like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and online games. Presenting yourself in a positive way online can be particularly tricky. Why? Because on the internet, we can’t use body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions to interact with others. These forms of nonverbal communication are an essential part of human language and have developed over thousands of years. Without them, it can be difficult to understand someone (or for someone to understand you). Think about it: have you ever sent a text, tweet, Facebook post, or email that somebody else thought was rude? Were you shocked or embarrassed to learn that someone thought you were trying to be mean, even if you weren’t? Saying or doing something you wish you hadn’t is one thing; posting it online where everyone can see it is another—and it comes with many unique consequences. This is why it’s so important to develop good online etiquette. After all, it’s not always possible to control how others will respond to something you do or say. But it is possible to develop smarter habits that will help you communicate more effectively online and maximize the safety and well-being of yourself and others.


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