What is Online Etiquette and Why Do Kids Need It?

Manners are some of the first things we’re taught as kids, and for good reason. They can help kids make friends, improve their confidence and open doors to more opportunities as they grow.

We’re all familiar with please, thank you and excuse me, but what about manners when it comes to the internet?

While your child might not have a mobile phone of their own just yet, they are probably using an iPad, laptop, computer or gaming device that connects to the internet.

Just like manners in the real world, online etiquette, or “netiquette”, can help kids in many ways, especially when it comes to creating a good digital footprint, which can serve them well now and as they grow up.

Here’s some etiquette tips for kids (and adults) for tech in both online and offline spaces.


It’s all about tone: it's much harder to express your tone over text as things can get lost in translation.
For example, something might sound funny in person, but the same thing typed out over text can come across as mean or rude.
Always consider how the recipient might interpret a text before sending it.

Think before you type: we are all guilty of letting emotions get the better of us and having a go at someone we probably shouldn’t have.
Take a moment to pause before hitting send and remember, if you wouldn’t say it to someone face to face, don’t say it to them online.

Exclusion hurts: whether it’s in the playground or on an online game, getting left out can be hurtful for kids.
Encourage kids to treat online games just like playground games and include anyone who wants to play. For games with player limits, take turns so everyone gets a chance to have fun.
Of course, kids should only be playing with people they know in real life, so make sure you know who your child is playing with.

Respect people’s down time: just because someone is online, it doesn’t mean they want to talk. There’s nothing wrong with sending a friend a message, but problems start when kids don’t get an immediate response and repeatedly send messages to get their friend’s attention.
Teaching kids that people don’t always feel social, and everyone needs their own space is a great way to make sure they’re respecting everyone's right to down time.

Understand everyone is different: just like at school, kids aren’t going to agree with or like everyone they come across online. Help kids understand that not engaging is always better than arguing with someone they don’t agree with.


Watch your step: don’t let kids walk around public spaces while staring at a screen. Help them understand that it’s important to be aware of their surrounding for their own safety and the safety of others.
Make it a rule that kids must stay in their seat of they’re having screen time in a public space.

Keep it down: have you ever been forced listen to someone else’s loud music on a packed train home after a busy day at work? Maybe you’ve been at a café with a friend and can’t tune out Peppa Pig blaring from a toddlers iPad on the table next to you.
Encourage kids to think about where they are when they’re on their devices and how their usage can be a disruption to the people around them. Make sure they have a pair of headphones on hand for things like flights or sitting in the waiting room.

Is this the right place? Following from the above point, help kids understand where devices are and aren’t appropriate.
For example, bringing an iPad on a long bus ride is more appropriate than bringing it to a family dinner at a restaurant.
Rather than just telling kids “no”, try to help them understand why their devices are ok in some places but not in others.

By helping kids understand why online manners and tech etiquette is important, we can help them not only have better interactions with others, but also a healthier relationship with technology.