Friday Digital Byte: Is your digital message RITE?

We spend a good amount of time sending a receiving digital messages each and every day. From quite texts that amount to “LOL” to more elaborate emails, tweets and Facebook posts, our social lives have shifted from landlines, kitchen tables and even coffee shops to these virtual gathering spots.

Most days, everything goes smoothly. But, once in a while, we hit a digital snag. Perhaps one of these scenarios sounds familiar or has even happened to you:

1. Someone sends you a text, email or Facebook message that riles you up so feverishly reply back and hit send before you give yourself a chance to let your emotions settle. As they do, you wonder: “Perhaps that message was too much. Should I have waited to send it or not sent it at all?”
2. You sent an email or text intended for one person to another person by mistake…or to a group of people?

As we gain more experience with digital communications, we’ve learned to build in some internal pauses to prevent these sorts of mishaps from occurring. Most of us have figured out that communicating with a screen, as opposed to a person, isn’t as easy as it appears. We know that sometimes it’s best to pick up a phone or schedule a face to face meeting – even if that’s via Skype.

Our kids, though, don’t understand that yet. For them, the faceless connection is a major hurdle. In most situations, they’d handle the similar situation much more adeptly if face to face but behind the anonymous computer everything can fall apart quickly.
As I wrote in on page 176, Chapter 17, of CyberSafe:

“As we’ve seen, many online issues with teens and tweens occur because of the power of anonymity. If they are reminded that there is a real person behind the computer, that often changes their behavior and outlook considerably. In addition to talking with kids about their digital footprints, I use the mnemonic RITE to make kids pause and think about what they are posting online.”

Helping kids understand the RITE posting concept is a great way to avoid these digital snafus and is grounded in what we do every day when we post:

R: Reread every message to be sure it sounds OK and is what you really want to send.
I: Imagine if you were the one receiving the message…would you be upset or hurt by what it says?
T: Think about whether it needs to be sent now or can it wait a bit. Sometimes waiting and re-reading the message later can avoid a big mess later on. (You may even find that you’d rather not send the message afterall!)
E: hit the Enter button only after you are satisfied that R-I-T are to your satisfaction.

Your kids want to get it right…so help them make their messages RITE!

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