A new parenting tool app teaches kids digital manners. (Courtesy of parenting.com)
A new parenting tool app teaches kids digital manners. (Courtesy of parenting.com)

“Yes, sir” or “Yes, ma’am.”

“No, sir” or “No, ma’am.”

Some years ago, those words out of the mouths of young ones were not only expected when addressing an adult, anything outside of that kind of good etiquette was considered surprising and even disrespectful.

September is National Children’s Good Manners month, but parents today don’t have to worry just about teaching their young ones to say “please” and “thank you” or to be polite.

One of the biggest challenges faced by parents today is tackling the issue of digital manners, said officials from Busy Kids, an organization that helps parents raise responsible children.

The organization’s CEO, Gregg Murset, is the father of six children and founder of the website MyJobChart.com,which teaches children about work and money.

Murset noted that those of all ages feel empowered by a level of anonymity and physical distance online, and as a result, emails, text messages and communications on social media are often harsher and more degrading than what would be expressed in person.

“Simply put, people feel free to be meaner online and parents must teach their children how to react if someone treats them poorly online in addition to making sure their child is not saying or posting inappropriate things online,” he said.

Suzanne Wind, a parent and author of the award-winning “The SMART Playbook series,” created several activity books with her children to tackle social skills and manners in this busy digital world.

Wind’s series covers social skills, mealtime manners, the art of conversation and technology talk.

“To help our kids navigate life with confidence and success, it is so important that we give them the tools to succeed,” she said.

“Learning how to use technology with grace and manners is an important part of this journey. As a parent, I refer to my book all of the time with my kids. We all need a good reminder on how to show etiquette on a daily basis.”

The more individuals interact with others through technology, the more attractive it becomes so it’s imperative that a concerted effort is made to interact without digital devices such as computers, cellphones, texting and tweeting, said Tim Lynch, president and CEO of Psychsoftpc, a company that develops computers for virtual reality gaming.

“Get the kids outside and have them interact with other kids, use a checkout [at the grocery store] with an actual human, use a human teller at the bank instead of the ATM, stop cutting ourselves off from people,” Lynch said. “We also need to stop and think and read what we have written before we hit send.”

National Good Manners Month was launched in 2003 to help create an awareness of the necessity in passing on good virtues and values to the next generation.

Organizers built the tradition on principles provided by the International Project for Manners & Civility, such as “Kids don’t learn manners by accident, nor do athletes learn sportsmanship by chance. Also, young people don’t become engaged, responsible, citizens and employees of character and integrity by chance, either.”

Robin Taylor, a mother of four children ages 9 to 15, has created the RAKKOON app, a parenting tool to help children learn to use social media responsibly.

“The main point of our app is to start a conversation between parents and kids about what’s going on in the kids’ online lives,” Taylor said, adding the app also was created because many individuals feel free to be mean online and send text messages that are harsher than they would relate in face-to-face dialogue.

Those who use social media often lose their filter because they may not know someone in real life, empowering them to share unsolicited opinions, said Francoise Shirley of the image making firm Hollywood Connections PR.

“Posting negative comments can be hurtful to the recipient of the message,” Shirley said.

“Coach kids to carefully choose their words and train them to implement a five second rule to not impulsively post and to reread their message before hitting send to be sure their message wouldn’t be misunderstood.”

Young children and teens have a tendency to express frustration and disappointment on social media, and often do so impulsively, he said.

Parents should offer them other ways to vent and share their feelings, as well as explaining that while it may feel good in the moment, the consequences of a negative post far outweigh the immediate satisfaction, Shirley said.

“Help your kids put themselves in the other person’s shoes when making social media posts,” he said.

For more information, visit nationalmannersmonth.com.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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