Wednesday, June 20, 2012

10 Rules for Safe and Respectable Online Behavior (Written by 7th Graders)

                                                                                                    Photo by Nirzhar. Business Portraits
Here’s a question: Who is more apt to post an embarrassing photo online, a 7th grader or his/her parent? If you answered “a 7th grader”… then you’d be wrong. According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center called Reputation Management and Social Media, adults share personal information online more freely than kids. And guess what? They’d really like us to stop.

This past year, in our weekly “Cyber Civics” class at Journey School, I asked a roomful of 7th graders to come up with ten rules for “safe and respectable online behavior.” Here is their list:

  1. I will not post embarrassing pictures of other people on public sites.
  2. I will not post mean comments online.
  3. I will not post any personal information about myself online.
  4. I will not give out any personal information about my friends.
  5. I will not make up fake identities.
  6. I will always ask permission before posting pictures of others.
  7. I will respect a person’s decision if they do not want a picture or video of themselves posted online.
  8. I will think twice (or three times) before putting anything online.
  9. I will not pretend to be another person online behind their back.
  10. I will not post personal stories about my friends online without their permission.
I think these are terrific rules for all of us, young person and adult alike. After all, as tempting as it is to over share personal information on social networks, like Facebook, following these guidelines not only demonstrates respect for the “digital footprints” of our families and friends, it’s also just plain smart. After all, posting that photo of your family frolicking on the beach in Maui also broadcasts to the world that nobody is at home. That’s not so wise. Don’t believe me? Just ask your 7th grader.

(Btw, in case you were wondering, yes the class gave me permission to post this list and to give out the name of their school!)


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