Earlier this week, a post I wrote about Kneebouncers sparked lively dialogue on their facebook page. While many comments provided constructive feedback to the developers, there were an unfortunate number of inappropriate or down right mean ones that well, stung. Profanity. Name calling. Piercing accusations. Some were just numbing – – and they weren’t even directed at me or what I wrote. Many of the comments had to be deleted.

The sad part? It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen adults {{parents}} go rabid on a social network site.

I have a little 19-month-old mini-me at home. She mimics everything I do, from teeth brushing, to ‘washing’ dishes, to the words I say. It stands to reason that she’s absorbing my online behaviors as well, before she can even type.

How I handle myself — in person and online — impacts the person my child becomes. What are your online behaviors telling your child?

Today, Jennifer Cooper (Classic Play) and I are taking on social network etiquette. Truthfully, our kids are not ready to jump in to the social media web just yet, so we have time to refine the list below. But we want to lead by example. And we think these are rules of social engagement that everyone should consider living by:

  • Behind every username, there is a person. Treat them like you would your best friend, work colleague, or grandma. They have a face. They have feelings. **No one’s getting rich on the web. I mean I guess maybe one or two people are, but generally speaking, behind the blog or fan page, there’s someone who’s just trying to either connect with others or make a living to put food on the table.
  • Social media is about interacting. Do so respectfully. Debate is encouraged, and difference of opinions are expected. But make sure your comments are well thought out and remember your words can do harm. **Here’s the thing, no one expects everyone to agree on everything. But if we all go around screaming and shouting at each other, what happens? You’ll end up needing a hearing aid and a throat lozenge.

  • Don’t say anything that undermines your integrity. If you think you have to say something anonymously, don’t say it at all.
  • Comment fair. Choose your words thoughtfully. Emotional ranting makes you look, well, fill in the blank. **Take a second to read through what you typed before you hit the comment button. You don’t have to obsess, but you should ask yourself, what am I projecting here?

  • Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. So think twice before you post, upload, or comment. Even if you delete, someone has seen it. They’ll remember. And someone else will still be able to find it. Including Mom or Dad. A future employer. Your best friend. **I once had a speech professor from Africa say this: “Words are like arrows, once you release them, you can’t get them back.” It’s something I think about to this day.

  • Remember, you’re a guest. If you’re reading someone’s blog, it’s the same as if they’ve invited you into their home. It’s their internet real estate. Don’t do or say anything that would embarrass your mother. **You want to be the guest that gets invited back, not the one everyone says, “Oh I thought she’d NEVER leave.” as soon as the door shuts.

  • Find another way to vent. (AKA don’t post angry). Everyone gets angry. That’s ok. No one wants to read your virtual temper tantrum or tirade. Tearing someone else down on a facebook page? That just makes you a bully. If you’re feeling hot, take a walk. Think about what upset you. Still feel a need to post? Ok. Write about it tomorrow when your emotions aren’t so high and you can focus your energy into a constructive comment. **Some of the worst moments I’ve had were when I said something stupid because I was angry. We all make mistakes but lashing out in anger does nothing but come back to bite you, ahem, in a very unpleasant spot.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Attribute everything. If someone shares a link with you and you like it, give them credit. NEVER copy someone’s words and give an impression they are your own. **This is just good practice.

  • When you venture into the social web, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Everything you need to know you really did learn in Kindergarten. You’ll talk with people you’ve met in real life, and those you’ll never meet in the “real world” on the social web. Be an online friend to all of them. Listen. Respond. You’ll be amazed what kinds of friendships will emerge. And with whom. **Here! Here!

  • Be safe. Your personal details are just that – – personal. You can share yourself without divulging your location, phone number, birthday or social security number. **Yes, just like you don’t give out your phone number to the creepy guy who asks you out, don’t give it out here either.

  • Always be yourself. Literally and figuratively.

What would you add to this list?

Technology Thursday is a joint project of Classic Play and (cool) progeny. Each week, both blogs will be taking on a family-technology-related issue. We invite you to join the conversation!