Social Media and Netiquette – Conflicting Messages?

When reflecting on Social Media and one’s presence on the internet, I always think back to the instruction in digital etiquette that I received in mid- and high-school. I remember being given only two talks from grades eight to twelve. Both contained the same advice: you should not be on the internet because there are creepy people out there that will find you and stalk you and steal your stuff. Such advice is somewhat relevant, particularly for those who are barely legally old enough to be using social media. For example, we were specifically told many times to never put our real names or location on the internet. This would be beneficial to, say, a 13-year-old girl wanting to connect with friends and to avoid stalkers. But once one begins to move towards a career, it is imperative that one can be found on the internet as their true self (Business Know-How). Good netiquette involves more than making a password a mile long and not posting nude photos – it is about presenting your best, truest face for the entire world to see. The interconnected, collaborative nature of the new web can be a powerful tool for creation and empowerment, but only if you are not afraid to present your true self to the world.

As students move into high school, and move towards future careers, they should be taught to present their true self on the web, to network politely and in an engaged manner with friends, family and future employers. A focus on security and the protection of privacy is fine for younger teens, but as youths mature, they must move away from total isolation if they are to set themselves up for a successful future with social media.

Highlighting the difference in priorities for business and kids’ social media etiquette:

1) MediaSmarts – Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy.

2) Business Know-How; written by Lydia Ramsey.


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