Netiquette: Laying Down Digital Manners For Your Child

Written by Eve Bandusena | Parents Avenue’s Editorial Assistant | Photos Courtesy of Freepik

The exponential growth and accessibility of the internet over the years now has a surprising new demographic: young children. Join us as we chat with Daphne Iking about the in-depth importance of guarding your children with Netiquette, why offline manners matters as much in the cyber world and how online destructive behavior has real world implications.

From very early on, children are inculcated with the practice of etiquette governed by their parents. Most of the time, it’s automatically instilled without a second thought and is prompted when a child occasionally forgets to enact them.

The proper usage and application of etiquette aren’t done on a whim just to “fit” in a social environment.

It serves a larger purpose of teaching our children to be respectful of others, to behave appropriately in given situations, and to be considerate of other people’s thoughts and feelings amongst many other social cues.

The same set of rules apply when we’re online.

Netiquette is the combined words of (Net)work and E(tiquette) and is defined as accepted online manners and behaviors.

Think of offline etiquette but with an online focus.

As the presence of the internet develops exponentially, so does the accessibility of it. And, there’s a surprising demographic: young children.

According to research done at McAfee, it’s been found that children from 8 to 12 years old spend 1.5 hours on the internet and engage in social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

As parents, we must understand that the internet is an extension of the real world.

Why is practicing netiquette rules important for our children?

“Netiquette is equally just as important to be instilled among us because we are now living in a world of social media and the availability of chat rooms with faceless communication, seemingly makes it ‘easier’  to be more forthright in our conversation and to speak our mind to a bigger audience.” Daphne Iking, Malaysia’s multi-talented personality, and passionate child activist share her insights with us.

“Unfortunately, with this platform and opportunity, there is also the abuse that comes with it; and people lack the decorum and constructive effectiveness in conveying or relaying a message.” She additionally adds.

Why is practicing netiquette rules important for our children?

“Cyber-bullying or being a victim of one.” Daphne cites.

“One should be authentic off and on screen. I know some cyber troopers who are paid to do what they do and they’re really actually nice people to begin with, but eventually start being the persona they reflect onscreen.” She shares with us.

“Unkindness gets us nowhere. We can have differing opinions and ideas, but let it be conveyed constructively. Debate maturely and agree to disagree.” Rightfully said.

How destructive online behavior have real world implications.

Daphne shared a rather disturbing anecdote pertaining to the harsh realities of cyber-bullying.

“A child, barely in her teens became depressed and tried to commit suicide due to cyber-bullying.” She sombrely admits.

“I know a group of preteens was being mean over a Whatsapp group to another girl in my daughter’s school and one day it just got so bad, she went over to the school admin to request for a class change.” She says.

“We need to bring in more awareness in this and parents should monitor their children’s devices and group chats. I was alarmed at some of the language used too. Horrible.” Daphne remarks.


Here are some Netiquette rules to put into practice.

  • Always Remember That People Are Real

It’s deceptively easy to forget that behind every username, profile picture or, comment is a real person that’s behind a screen. It’s easy to be detached considering they lack a physical presence where we can’t see how they look like, we can’t see how they feel, or how we’re affecting them. So next time, teach your child to try empathizing how the person they’re interacting with will be impacted by their actions before corresponding or posting any images or messages.

  •  Treat Others The Way You Want To Be Treated

This cardinal rule stands in real life and online. If you want to be treated with respect, politeness and kindness you must also afford the same courtesy to those you’re corresponding with online. We must imbue in our kids that they’re only getting what you’re giving as respect works both ways. Teach your child, no name calling, offensive messages and pictures even if they disagree with what’s being relayed. Encourage them to be the higher person, choose the higher ground.

  • Verify The Facts Before Reposting Online

Everyone hates a hoax regardless of how big or inane it is and because of this, it’s important to teach kids to fact-check their information before sending it to someone else. With a lot of material on the internet, it’s sometimes difficult to discern what is real and what is not especially with certain clickbait articles which they can be susceptible too. What is read online is sometimes transferred to our real world, where at times the information is used. This is the reason why it’s vital for children to ensure the information is fact checked.

  • Don’t Share Pictures Online You Wouldn’t Share In Real Life

This is a crucial lesson that parents should open an honest dialogue with their kids about. Children are susceptible to many threats on the internet. The internet is a very vast and limitless place and it so happens, that they stand the chance of interacting with the wrong crowd and be asked dubious requests such as explicit photos and messages. It’s very important for parents to monitor their child’s online activity and arm them with this etiquette to protect them from any malicious activity from occurring.

  •  Stay Present In Real Time

Don’t you just hate it when you’re having dinner with your kids, or talking to them and their occupied with their smartphones and iPads in their hands? It’s important for kids to stay in the present, engage with their parents and peers head on without constantly checking their technological gadgets. In doing this, it fires a couple of messages. Firstly, they’re being rude by ignoring someone who wants their attention. Secondly, that they don’t care about the person engaging with them as their prioritizing their focus on something else rather than on the person. Staying present may be a small act, but it’s a powerful one for people around us.

Do you have any messages for Parents Avenue readers?
“According to a Ministry of Health survey, more than one-third of Malaysian children are addicted to the internet. This is concerning as so much of our digital interaction takes place through a screen that it can lead to visual impairment, sleep disruption and cyber-bullying if used without parental supervision.” Daphne warily tells us.

She also stresses that apart from studies and school activities, the psychological well-being of our children must be guarded as well.

“This alludes to the issue of cyber-bullying and the dangers of social media chats. Class teachers will need to be trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of cyber-bullying and the ill effects of social media chats. We must not underestimate the inherent dangers, consequences and legal ramifications.” 

Daphne has a strong point. As our interaction with the internet grows, so should the role of educators and education extend their involvement in this domain to counter and address these problems.
“I must repeat my call to parents and guardians to monitor their children in social media chats at all times, especially after school. Be aware of what your child is exposed to or involved with through these channels. An old English proverb better to be safe than sorry holds true in this instance.” She lastly relays to us.

Want to know more about Daphne Iking and stay updated on her current projects?  You can follow her across these social media platforms. You may subscribe to her on Youtube and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

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