Everyday Etiquette: Kids and Email Behavior

By Diane Gottsman

Everyday EtiquetteChildren and teens must be taught to use and respect the Internet, just as adults may need a gentle reminder of Net Etiquette:

• Always fill in the subject line. This gives the recipient an idea of what topic the email is going to cover and its level of importance. Just like the little boy who called “wolf,” don’t put 911 in the subject line.

• Stay away from using ALL CAPS. This is called “flaming” and is impolite and offensive to the reader.

• Parents should know all of their children’s passwords. Make this a condition of use for your children. Designate a drawer or space where all of the passwords can be easily found, if necessary.

• Respond to an email within one day. If possible, answer email within 24 hours.

• Chain letters are a nuisance. It is not a compliment to receive a chain letter that has been sent to 100 people before you. Chain letters are annoying, take up space and are a waste of time.

here is no such thing as privacy. Never write anything in an email that you wouldn’t want read on the front page of your local paper. If you say something unkind or untrue about another person, chances are good that he or she will eventually find out and your name will be attached to the email accusation.

• Remember that it is difficult to interpret the writer’s mood via email. Conversation between friends usually relies on visual clues such as laughter, a smile or tone of voice. When you are emailing another person, you may use an emoticon to relay a visual tone.

• Use the grammar and spell check. Some people tend to get a little lazy when using email, but correct spelling and use of language is important for clarity and because it’s part of the impression you make upon your recipients.

• Choose carefully what you use email for. Thank-you notes, for example, are best when handwritten.

• Always start the email with a greeting and end the email with a closing gesture. “Dear” and “Sincerely” are two words that shouldn’t be overlooked.

• Think before you forward. It is not polite to forward an email from one friend to another friend without first asking advance permission to do so.

• Keep them brief and to the point. Email is meant to be a shortcut, it is not meant to be a long, drawn out letter. It’s a quick way to say “hello,” ask a question or make a few, well-thought-out points.

• Sign your name. When sending someone an email, make sure and sign your name so they know whom the email is from. Initials are not acceptable as a signature to your Aunt Jane or Grandma Sally.

• Refrain from using foul language.