Do you like to play on the computer? Exploring the Internet can be an exciting way to spend a few extra minutes every now and then. From interesting educational websites to social media sites where you can communicate with friends, the Internet is a vast virtual world that is constantly changing.

One of the interesting things about the Internet is that people from all around the world, from all walks of life, can interact in ways that would never be possible in real life. Be sure to let your parents and teachers guide you on your online journeys, though, as it’s important to learn how to navigate the Internet safely.

Just like in real life, there are certain rules you should follow in terms of your behavior online. Just because you’re at a computer and no one can really know who you are or what you’re like, common courtesy dictates that you should behave in certain ways. We call these rules that govern online behavior “netiquette,” which stands for “Internet etiquette.”

In other words, netiquette means good manners online. Just like there are certain rules you follow when you’re in school or at the dinner table, there are other rules that you should follow online to make your interactions in cyberspace as positive as possible.

So what are the rules of netiquette? There are too many rules of netiquette to cover in today’s Wonder of the Day, but here are some of the more important rules to keep in mind:

  • Remember the golden rule: treat others as you would wish to be treated. Never forget that those you interact with online are real people with real feelings. This can be easy to forget when you’re just staring at a computer screen. Online communication using only words can be impersonal, since you usually can’t see facial expressions, gestures or hear a person’s tone of voice. So be aware of your words and use them carefully, because in cyberspace, your words can live on much longer than you’d imagine!
  • Act in the same way online that you would in real life. If you wouldn’t do something in real life, don’t do it online either!
  • Always be aware of where you are. When you visit a new website, take some time to look around and get a feel for how others behave and participate. This will help you get an idea of whether you want to participate and, if you do, how to do so properly.
  • Use your writing skills! Yes, grammar and spelling count online. When it’s your words that define your online presence, use them skillfully and carefully! If you need help with spelling and grammar, grab a book or take a course to help you. It’s worth it.
  • Share your knowledge! The Internet exists to help all users gain knowledge. If you’re an expert in an area, don’t keep your knowledge to yourself. Share it with others, so that everyone can benefit.
  • DON’T SHOUT! Use of ALLCAPS is the Internet equivalent of shouting, so don’t use ALLCAPS unless you really intend to be SHOUTING something over the Internet.
  • Don’t spam others. If you receive a joke via email, feel free to share it with a few friends who you know appreciate those types of emails. Don’t, however, forward it to everyone in your address book. Many people don’t enjoy receiving emailed jokes or have time to read them.

Those are just a few of the rules of netiquette. The rules change over time, too, as technology advances and new uses are found for the Internet. If you use common sense and treat others the way you want to be treated, you’ll do fine!

16 Join the Discussion

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    • Way to go, Gwen! We are happy to have you WONDERing with us! We WONDER if you have any netiquette tips of your own to share? :)

    • What a great comparison, Julie! Sometimes we forget that being kind, polite and patient is SUPER important, even over the internet! We are SO GLAD you have joined us in WONDERing today! Great job: you’ve added a new word (netiquette) to your vocabulary, too! :)

    • What a SUPER guess, Wonder Friend! We cannot wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be, either– we triple dog dare you to visit tomorrow! :)

  1. Thanks for being so kind today! You made me feel better because my grandpa (my dad’s dad)
    passed away. :-( I am going to go to the funeral (which is in Canada) next week.

    • We are thinking of you and your family, Julie. We are so sorry to hear about your grandpa, but we hope you embrace all those great memories together. Safe travels to Canada and keep a smile in your heart. :)

  2. Wow. I feel like I wasn’t using good netiquitte now…
    I liked today’s WONDER (it’s okay to use all caps then, right?). I think tomorrow’s WONDER (?) will be about Evel Knievel!
    Emily

    • We LOVE that you are thinking about online etiquette, Emily! Everyone can grow and learn something new– we are so glad you’re WONDERing with us!

      Once in a while, using all CAPITAL LETTERS is okay, especially when you are trying to express emotion (like excitement or energy). However, emoticons can also accomplish the same thing. :) YIPEE! Thanks for guessing with us, and we’ll find out what that devilish Wonder is tomorrow! :)

    • We think it’s very important to remember our manners, even when we are online. We think it is AWESOME that your school provides rules for online users, too! We are SUPER excited for school to begin, too, Carlos! We think your netiquette ROCKS! Have a WONDERful day! :)

    • Way to go, Carter! We think you have a GREAT point about bullying– in person and on the internet. We love to form friendships at Wonderopolis and accept one anothers’ differences. Life is much more fun and friendships are stronger when we can accept one another! Thanks for sharing your great point of view– we hope you have a WONDERful day!

      Take a look at a past Wonder– we think you have made a great connection to this Wonder, too! :)

      Wonder #611– Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/do-you-judge-a-book-by-its-cover/ :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do you have good netiquette?
  • What are the basic rules of netiquette?
  • Why is good netiquette important?

Wonder Gallery

hSocial NetworkWorried Looking Boy Using LaptopVimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to practice good netiquette? Grab a computer and a friend or family member and explore one or more of the following activities:

  • Surf the web for a bit! As you visit different websites and interact with others online, keep the rules of netiquette in mind. Which rules do you already follow? Are there any rules that seem difficult to follow? Which rules seem to be the most difficult to remember or follow?
  • To show all your Wonder Friends that you learned from today’s lesson, leave a comment at the bottom of today’s Wonder of the Day page. Make sure you use good netiquette in your comment! We can’t wait to hear about what you learned from today’s Wonder of the Day. Feel free to tell any stories of examples of good netiquette you’ve noticed recently. You can also suggest any other rules not covered in today’s Wonder of the Day.
  • Up for a challenge? Write and act out a play that shows examples of good and bad manners in real life, as well as examples of good and bad netiquette. If you can, use examples in which online behavior mirrors behavior in real life. Feel free to include as many friends and family members as possible. If you can, shoot a video of your play and upload it to the Wonderopolis SchoolTube channel, so that your Wonder Friends can see some additional examples of what to do — and not to do! — online.

Still Wondering

In ReadWriteThink’s Building a Learning Community: Crafting Rules for the Classroom lesson, children will learn to mind their p’s and q’s in a lesson on etiquette and appropriate behavior in the classroom.

Test Your Knowledge

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day gets right to the point…or, dot!

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