Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families when teaching K-3 students about digital etiquette. It is designed to complement the Digital Etiquette Topic on BrainPOP Jr.  

The internet is a fun, educational, and interactive resource, but children should know there is an etiquette to online communication. Make sure children understand that etiquette refers to the rules that guide people to behave respectfully. 

Behaving respectfully online is known as digital etiquette. Digital etiquette helps us be as polite online as we are in person. It provides guidelines that help people communicate their thoughts clearly and respectfully. Discuss with children how, when we talk face to face, we often look and listen to understand how the other person feels. 

But when we’re online, we can’t always see or hear the other person. We might confuse someone or get confused by their responses. That’s why it’s important for everyone to share their thoughts clearly when communicating online.  

Proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation help people understand us more easily, so we should try to follow those guidelines whenever we write. Let children know that it’s O.K. if they make mistakes—we all do! It’s trying that is important. 

Other digital etiquette tips for children include reminding them never to use “all caps,” (LIKE THIS) because it means they are yelling. No one likes to be shouted at, so encourage children only to use all caps when they’re really, really excited about something. Also, children should know it’s helpful to stick to the topic when answering questions or making comments online: this helps keep everyone focused and prevents misunderstandings. 

Remind children that empathy is understanding the feelings of another person. In digital etiquette, empathy helps us think about how people might feel about what we post online. When children write something, they should imagine someone else reading it. How would it make them feel? How would they feel if someone wrote that to or about them? 

The basic guideline is to treat people online the same way we’d treat them in person. Children wouldn’t yell at someone in real life if they disagreed with them about a book or a game, so they shouldn’t do that online either. Also, let children know that it’s just as mean to share someone else’s secrets online as it is in person. The basic rule is to be kind when sharing online. 

There is also an etiquette about sharing photos and videos online. It’s fun for children to see all the stuff friends post, but when sharing a photo or video with other people in it, they should always ask beforehand if it’s O.K. to share. Even if a friend has created some cool artwork, children should get permission before posting a picture, and be sure to name their friend as the artist. 

Again, remind children about empathy: thinking about how people might feel when they see an image or video that someone else posts. If something is not kind, or not theirs to share, then children should know not to share it. 

Discuss with children how they can practice digital etiquette when learning remotely. Remind them that it’s important to find a quiet place where they can focus. And just like in real life, students should arrive on time, ready to learn, and  to come prepared with books, homework, paper and pencils, and anything else their teacher asked them to bring. 

Online learning can be a challenge, but it helps to sit up straight and pay attention, just like in regular class. And when students want to say something, they can raise their hands. Children also can show respect by keeping the camera facing them, so teachers and classmates can see and understand them.

Listening for directions is important for online learning, so remind children to pay attention! Teachers might ask them to turn cameras on or off, or  to mute themselves to make it easier for everyone to hear. Children should only use the chat box when the teacher asks them to and, just like in the classroom, they should stick to the topic when having a class discussion.

Invite children to make the connection between online behavior and behavior in real life. No one would eat in the classroom or play with pets during a lesson in school, so they shouldn’t do it at home. 

By teaching children digital etiquette, we’re creating patterns for a healthy and happy online life, and giving them the long-term tools that will keep their internet use safe and respectful.