Mind Your Manners

How to use the Internet and cell phones safely
Author: Sarah Aldridge

Computers and cell phones make our lives so much easier. Just think: With the click of a mouse or the push of a button, we can send and receive messages, find out what’s playing at the movie theater and get more information about bleeding disorders.

But you have to be careful to follow the rules when you go online or send a text message. “Netiquette” means having good manners on the Internet. “Textiquette” means the same thing for cell phone users. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to remember next time you go online or send a message on your cell phone.


  • Pick a screen name or e-mail account name that isn’t your real name.
  • Create a password that’s hard to decode. Keep it secret.
  • Tell your parents if you get e-mail that asks for personal information.
  •  Ask your parents what to do if a stranger sends you an e-mail or text message.


  • Give out any personal information unless your parents say it’s OK.
  • Send photos, your phone number or home address to any stranger you meet online.
  • Open an attachment from a stranger.
  • Enter contests or join clubs that ask for your personal information.
  • Send mean or scary things to someone, even if you’re just teasing.
  • Sign up someone for something without their permission.

It might seem safe to share personal information with friends you make online. After all, they may like the same things you do or say they understand your bleeding disorder. But sharing your name, address, phone number, school name and other personal information could cause trouble. Some people who go to Internet chat rooms or send e-mails are not kids. They may use your information to sell you things or try to meet you in person. That’s why you need to be careful when you use the Internet or send a text message to someone you don’t know. Make sure your instant messaging (IM) is set to receive messages only from a “friends list.” Find out how to block messages from strangers.

Cyber bullying is a way for kids to hurt other kids using computers. Sometimes kids gang up on other kids this way and cause a lot of pain. Some ways that cyber bullies hurt other kids is by:

  • Lying about who they are online to play a joke or trick someone.
  • Sending a private e-mail from a friend without his or her permission to someone else.
  • Using bad language online.
  • Using someone else’s password to log on to a Web site.
  • Posting photos of someone on a Web site without their permission.
  • Signing on with someone else’s screen name.
  • Using information found online to tease or embarrass someone.
  • Typing e-mail messages that are scary or threatening.

With good manners, the Internet and cell phones can be fun tools to communicate with other people. You can even “talk” to people online in other countries who are in different time zones! Just make sure that you are using your best skills to be careful and kind.

[Steps for Living: Sticking Up for Yourself]