Manners, Respect, Responsibility, and Social Media: A Message For Our Children

Manners, Respect, Responsibility, and Social Media: A Message For Our Children

I have been increasingly disappointed by the behavior of many of the students I encounter on a daily basis. The subject of this week’s “Susan’s Two Cents” is a review of basic manners as well as a discussion about respect and a bit about social media. It is a huge topic and one I will revisit further in the future.

Good manners can have a significant impact on everyone we encounter in a day. Those with good manners are kind and treat those people they meet each day (parents, teachers, friends, classmates) with respect. Showing respect means treating people with kindness and showing consideration for their feelings. Compassionate people are thoughtful about the needs of others, not just their own needs. Individuals who exercise good manners will find kindness, respect, and friendship with others. First impressions are very important and those exercising good manners will always make a great first impression. Your good manners and respect should also carry over to how you behave on social media.

Saying hello, good morning, or good afternoon to those who come across your path is one of the easiest manners to practice. Smile! Make eye contact. Respond when spoken to. Share with others. Hold a door open for those entering a building behind you, offer to help someone in need, and picking up litter you come across seem like simple tasks. Let someone behind you in line go ahead of you. Ask your parents or friends how their day has gone. Clean up after yourself without being asked. These are thoughtful things to do and will make you feel good. Those with good manners treat everyone with respect regardless of how different they are from you. Never forget to use the simple words: Please, Thank You, Excuse Me, and You’re Welcome.

People who exercise good manners receive respect in return. It is as simple as that. You can show respect for others by standing when you meet new people. Make eye contact and firmly shake hands with people you see for the first time. Being on time to appointments, classes, and family meals shows respect. Carefully listening to those who are speaking to you, whether a friend, teacher, parent, or other adult, is a sign of respect. Do not interrupt and never, ever, speak disrespectfully to others, especially your parents. Show interest by asking follow-up questions. Do not use inappropriate language. Dress for success (a topic for another day!). When I was growing up, talking back to my parents or using inappropriate language meant serious trouble for me. Times may be different today, but behaving respectfully is still important.

Over the last twenty years, we have seen significant changes in our world as a result of social media! Today, we can communicate with friends and family all over the world practically instantly. As hard as you may find this to believe, I survived high school and college without a cell phone, computer, tablet, or calculator! If I wanted to talk to friends, I called them on the one land-line that existed in our house (in the kitchen, where everyone could hear your discussion). Conversations occurred at school or when friends met up. Occasionally, we might write notes to each other, but for the most part, we communicated face-to-face. If we said something hurtful or inappropriate, we could immediately see the reaction of the other person. We learned social cues through this process. A great lesson from this is for you not to say things on social media (including via text, e-mail, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) that you would not say in person to someone. If you have something nice to share, great! If not, keep it to yourself. If you would not want your parents to see something you are writing, then do not write it. Use that as a guide.

There are a few other thoughts that you should consider important and respectful when it comes to using your cell phones, e-mail, and social media apps. Keep your phone on silent or off when interacting with family and friends. Keep your phone out of site when in classes and when attending important meetings. Always be polite and courteous when answering your phone. Talk in a respectful tone and use appropriate language. Be safe and do not correspond with people you do not know. This also applies to correspondence via e-mail or your social media sites. Do not friend people you do not know. Do not send texts, make posts, or send pictures you would not be comfortable for your parents or the whole world to see! Always use good manners when communicating via text, e-mail, phone, or posting on social media sites. Remember, others may take pictures of you in compromising situations and post for the world to see. It is very hard to erase something once it has been forwarded to the world!

Exercise good manners daily, show respect to those around you, be a responsible citizen at school, in your family, as well as in your community and with friends; use good judgement on social media and your destiny will be limitless. Remember the following quote from Lao Tzu:

Watch your thoughts because they become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions for they become habits.
Watch your habits for they become character.
Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.

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