Rules For Online Netiquette

A Guide For High School Students

Learner Description: This page is intended to serve as a guideline for high school students’ online communication and behavior. While many of the rules below refer specifically to school-related activities, most apply to a majority of online platforms.
Netiquette: The "etiquette" rules of the Internet which describe how to interact politely with others while online.

Why Netiquette Matters

Have you noticed that your teachers are embracing electronic and online resources for learning more and more each year? Laptops, iPads, online textbooks, simulated experiments, instructional videos, online discussion forums...they’re everywhere these days! Communicating appropriately in a traditional classroom is old hat by now; you know the rules for how to interact respectfully with your classmates when you’re speaking directly to them. But have you given much thought to how acting responsibly in a physical classroom translates to an online educational environment? Check out the rules below to ensure you’re effectively getting your point across, but not doing so in a way that upsets others or damages your reputation.

Rule #1: Treat Others As You Want To Be Treated

Yes, I know you’ve heard this before…and it’s just as true when you’re online as when you’re physically in front of someone else. The reason: words can hurt, whether they are spoken directly to someone or written to/about them online. Just as your teachers ask you to take ownership for the kind of energy you bring to the classroom, you should also take responsibility for the kind of space YOU create online:

Rule#2: Understand Where You Are Online

In the physical word, it’s easy to know where you are. How you speak might differ, depending on the role you’re playing: Are you volunteering in an elementary classroom as a Reading Buddy or in a car with three of your friends on the way to the movies? It’s often not as clear when you’re online: you can change locations (and personas) by simply opening up a new window. You might even have two or three windows open at the same time as you click back-and-forth between vastly different environments – some for school, some for fun. Are there different rules you have to follow depending on “where” you are? Absolutely! When you’re online engaged in a school-related activity, you should:

Rule #3: Don’t Be Lazy (or A Thief)

It’s usually quite obvious when you come to school unprepared having not done your homework: you’re speechless when your history teacher asks you to weigh in on last night’s reading on the Civil War and you can’t start the lab in chemistry class because you didn’t watch the YouTube video on how to titrate an acid with a base. Online learning environments are no different: you rarely make significant contributions to discussions that enrich the learning environment if you haven’t done the required reading, problem set or activity. “Show up” prepared and remember: