There’s no doubt that technology has fundamentally changed the way teenagers communicate—whether it’s 140 characters on Twitter, acronyms for texting, or doodles on a snap. But this shorthand is not always appropriate in email etiquette rules, especially one to, say, a teacher or boss. Our job is to help them understand the distinctions.
Proper Email Etiquette
Here are some email etiquette tips to review with your teen:
Exercise the ‘Golden Rule.’
If you wouldn’t speak to the person that way face-to-face, then don’t do it online. Tone is notoriously difficult to decipher online, so try to sound positive and courteous.
Remember, everything you post online is public.
You have no control over where your message goes once you’ve hit “Send”; it can be saved and forwarded by any recipient who chooses to do so. Words can come back to hurt people, destroy friendships, and ruin careers.
Grammar and punctuation matter.
Write in complete sentences with correct grammar. Always check spelling and punctuation, especially in business emails. Save the emoticons and decorative fonts for emails to friends.
DON’T USE ALL CAPS.
In an email, all caps is the same as shouting at someone.
Don’t email when you’re angry.
It’s never a good idea to hit “Send” when you’re emotional. Take some time to clear your head before you deal with the situation. This will help you refrain from saying something that you later regret.
Don’t use a silly email address.
You will use your email address for college applications, job applications, resumes, and scholarship opportunities. Does it make a good impression? If not, reset it.
Answer your emails.
Respond to emails within the same time span you would a phone call. Same day is best.
Human contact still matters.
Don’t communicate electronically at the expense of personal interaction. There’s a reason people often need to discuss things face-to-face, and there are times when no substitute will do.