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Netiquette: Lessons from South Korean Schoolchildren

Word: Netiquette

Definition: The rules for behaving online

The rules are fairly simple. According to Albion.com, they involve such behaviors as "remember the human, adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life and be forgiving of other people's mistakes."

They are rules that many parents may not think about teaching their children, much less practicing themselves. That was one of many interesting outtakes yesterday during a "Frontline" presentation and forum on a new project called Digital Nation. The project, which will result in a documentary film and for which the producers are soliciting feedback and stories online, is exploring how technology is changing us. As part of that research, the Digital Nation team headed to South Korea, one of the most advanced digital societies in the world, according to the "Frontline" folks.

That's where it gets fun. Netiquette, it seems, is part of the culture in South Korea. So much so that teachers tackle the subject starting in first grade. In a video of third graders, "Frontline" shows students singing a Netiquette theme song:

"While chatting first greet happily. Use polite words in a cordial way. ... Be careful on the keyboard. I know who did it (be careful) I know. I am the Internet guardian angel. ... Though faces are unknown it's a warm neighborhood. Precious Internet friend. Netiquette."

As a member of the last generation of adults in the U.S. who were raised without the omnipresence of the computer, are we failing our kids by not teaching them how to behave online? And given that children learn from parents, are we giving them the best examples we can of how to approach the powerful technological tools that we -- and our children -- have come to expect in our everyday lives?

One theory floated during yesterday's forum is that we helicopter over our children so much in most of their lives, that we see their computer/cell phone time as their domain and leave them to explore it on their own. Are we doing that? Should we be?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  March 25, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Teens , Tweens
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Comments


Not to be mean but most US adults do not know how to behave on line. Just look at this blog or on balance to get some examples. So who will our children learn from? Maybe we should import some South Korean teachers for our kids.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 25, 2009 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Not to be mean but most US adults do not know how to behave on line. Just look at this blog or on balance to get some examples. So who will our children learn from? Maybe we should import some South Korean teachers for our kids.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 25, 2009 7:24 AM | Report abuse


Oh, brother!

Posted by: jezebel3 | March 25, 2009 7:54 AM | Report abuse

"are we failing our kids by not teaching them how to behave online?"

Nope. We, as a culture, are failing our kids by not teaching them how to behave PERIOD.

Posted by: VaLGaL | March 25, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

"One theory floated during yesterday's forum is that we helicopter over our children so much in most of their lives, that we see their computer/cell phone time as their domain and leave them to explore it on their own."

That would be a very foolish thing to do. Children are interacting with people via computer and cell phone, just as they are interacting with people in person and at parties. With younger children you always have to know "who" and "what". As they get older you let them fly more freely, but still under your rules.

I'm not advocating that you monitor your children's phone calls or on-line interactions any more than you would eavesdrop on every word they say during a playdate - but just as you always know who they're playing with and what they're doing, you know who they're interacting with online and what they're doing.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | March 25, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I agree with foamgnome. When so many adults can't behave online, how are they going to teach their kids?

Posted by: dennis5 | March 25, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Netiquette, shmetiquette, I happen to like the troublemakers! Don't get me wrong, I like the sweetharts too, and the regulars know who they are, but when it comes right down to it, I prefer a valid point made through creative expression, in other words - humor, over mundane chatter. Unfortunately, when employing humor in one's writings, somewhere, somehow, courtesy takes a hit.

Having said that, I do point out to my kids that those who delight in being offensive and vulgar when communicating with friends are essentially anchoring themselves to a virtual gutter. Nobody wants to live in a gutter...

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | March 25, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Is Stacey asking if we should have cheery songs taught in school or teach our children ourselves about "netiquette"? I'll raise my hand for having parents handle ettiquette, whether it be chewing with your mouth closed or internet writing. The problem is we have an "anything goes culture." I find it offensive to see young girls wearing tight tank tops with their bellies hanging out and skin tight jeans, but their parents buy them these clothes and send them to school, so my expectations for these parents teaching internet etiquette is somewhat diminished.

HAving said all that, we have a first amendment right in this country, there is no law against being "offended" whether it be on the bus, on TV or on the net. Should we all practice manners? Yes. Do we need schools or gov't programs to "help keep the internet nice"? No.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | March 25, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Part of the implicit idea of school (at least public school, and to a point private school too) is to teach kids to be productive members of society as adults.

Should they teach netiquette? Only inasmuch as they teach regular etiquette -- which they don't usually do explicitly, but somewhere along the lines the standards of acceptable behavior are usually outlined. Don't interrupt the teacher or other kids who've been called on; use your "indoor voice" when indoors; stand quietly in line. Are they always followed? Nope. (Seem to remember a kid in my 4th grade class swearing at the teacher and getting immediately escorted to the office and then suspended; obviously unacceptable behavior.)

Are they used on a regular basis by the adults afterwards? Not always, but the seed is still there.

But perhaps the fundamentals should be there at school in some way (and the parents can then expand upon it).

Posted by: forget@menot.com | March 25, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Forget, Don't get me wrong, schools SHOULD reinforce all good forms of behavior, however that is not what always happens.

With the "anything goes" mentality and PC crap, Johnny can disrupt a class every day all year and the teacher's hands are tied because Johnny is "expressing" himself. There are standards, but they are so loosely followed in some classes and schools that the standards tends to fall apart.

I'm sure there are plenty of people here that have stories about disruptive and rude students that can not be removed from the class or corrected. When Johnny is allowed to act up allday everyday, it makes the kids that have been taught standards of proper behavior question why there are rules in the first place, look at Johnny!

We have been round and round on this very topic at our house. It comes down to teaching and reinforcing with your child at home. As in " I don't care if Johnny is acting like a jerk, or being snarky on the internet, or using bad language - you can not." The days where Parents could count on Schools to reinforce good behavior are gone - to some extent.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | March 25, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I find that song (especially if sung by children) uber creepy.

I agree with CheekyMonkey about the "anything goes" culture. It's easy to see why parents who make bad choices for their kids and for themselves in front of their kids do not produce well-mannered offspring. However, many kids still do self-regulate, even though their standards are lower than we'd like them to be. Most kids are good kids. We hear about the exceptions.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 25, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

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