Even when you’re online, ‘minding your manners’ still matters

Allison Nazarian The Life of Allison, Unsolicited Advice from Allison

Can I vent for a moment?

My 9-year-old daughter has discovered e-mail. Like, really discovered. Like, runnning home from school and logging on kind of discovered.

I’m torn because there are so many potential dangers of her being online but it’s also important to me that she become as online-proficient as possible early on. She shows signs of a major entrepreneurial streak (I pay her $5/week for performing various duties in my office, but that’s another story) and I want her to explore that as much (and as safely) as possible.

So I sat her down and gave her some insight into e-mail and online “netiquette.” I told her that under no circumstances could she become a “Forwarding Junkie–“ you know those people who forward you everything under the sun — chain letters, warnings, scams, questionnaires, pleas for missing kids from 1999.

You know the type. And they send them to your work/business e-mail, no less. Every once in a while I have a client who seems to be just discovering e-mail and goes through this Forwarding Phase.

It’s almost like the puberty of the online and e-mail world. And I wanted to make sure my daughter knew right off the bat that this is not OK.

I also let her know that it’s not OK be the “Contact Provider—“ you know, the one who eagerly and often gives names and e-mail addresses of friends, neighbors or family members to social media sites, prorgams that allow you to manage/organize your contacts, charities and online marketers promising to give you an information product for free (in exchange for the names&e-mails of a couple friends).

I told her under no circumstances does she ever give any site or any service names and e-mails of anyone. E-mails are valuable and it is not her, or your or my, place to give them out! (Yet, there are still those, much more advanced than 9-years-old, who are doing this with my and your business and personal e-mail addresses.)

I gave my daughter one more bit of valuable advice, in the form of the great Snopes site. None of us knows more or better than this site. Don’t send people, especially people in their place of business, silly (and ultimately false) warnings, stories and myths unless you have checked them through Snopes first. You may be smart, but I promise you — you’re not smarter than Snopes!

(And you know who you are — the deoderant-causes-cancer and don’t-flash-your-high-beam-lights-while-driving warning people!) Now, go forth, be prosperous, be efficient and be polite!