Do you get updates on your phone saying how much screen time you have in a day? 

The average adult spends 11 hours interacting with screens a day. We use the internet for work, for play, for communicating… it’s nearly impossible to escape this aspect of our lives. 

We’re spending so much time in the digital world, it’s easy to get caught up in using bad manners and losing sight of what’s going around you in the real world. 

Netiquette, or internet etiquette, is the unspoken code of polite behavior that should be practiced in cyberspace.  There are no official rules for netiquette, but if you follow common sense, essentially you should be respectful while online.

Follow these 5 basic netiquette rules to avoid ruining your relationships online and off.

If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it online

Arguably the most important rule to remember when it comes to netiquette is something we all learn when we’re young: Do unto others as you’d want them do unto you. 

This Golden Rule is summarized in the phrase “Remember the human”  coined by technology writer Virginia Shea. It’s so easy to turn into someone you’re nothing like in real life when you’re online. Nothing can ever really be deleted, so if what you’re commenting on someone’s picture is not something you would say in person, DON’T write it. Pretend you’re actually looking at the person rather than staring at your phone screen. Keep that other phrase we all learn in our childhood in mind while online: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Stay true to your ethics and don’t fan the flames. 

When it comes to politics and religion, I like to sit back and think, is this going to really change someone’s opinion? How will my comment really help them? Or am I just commenting to serve myself or my beliefs? Will this help or hurt my brand by injecting my feelings? If it doesn’t feel good… and I think I may regret it, I don’t post.

Watch your grammar and tone 

When it comes to texting and instant messaging, proper grammar almost always flies out the window. It’s easier to text your partner shorthand if you’re just asking about mundane daily things. But if you’re sending an email to your boss or you’re about to write a lengthy post, punctuation, complete sentences, and spelling are important to remember. Your tone and how you come across online is also something to keep in mind. If you’re a sarcastic person in real life, or you have a dry sense of humor, that often doesn’t translate well on email. Especially if you’re chatting with someone you’ve never met in real life. 

Real people matter the most 

Nothing is more annoying than trying to have a conversation with someone whose eyes are glued to their cell phone. If you’re out on a date with your partner or with your children and family, constantly checking your Facebook says that you don’t care about being present with them. Same goes for public spaces, like public transit, stores, coffee shops, and restaurants. Unplug from your phone if you’re about to interact with someone out in the world. They deserve your full attention. 

“Would I want my mother to see this?” 

It might seem like a fun idea to post that video of you and your friends drinking during your night out.

Trust me, it’s not.

There’s a sense of privacy when we post things socially, or even privately through text messages or emails, but you must remember that the digital space is public and permanent. Just ask any politician whose dirty texts were leaked for the world to see. Your family, friends, and co-workers can see everything you do online. Make sure you’re willing to face whatever consequences come from what you post. This also goes for tagging your friends in unattractive or uncompromising photos online. You wouldn’t want them to do that to you, so don’t put them through that embarrassment. 

Check your facts 

Before you share that article from a questionable website or blog, make sure you check your facts (and that you read more than just the headline)!

Please!! This former TV news producer begs this of you!

It could cause more harm than good if you share something that’s a hoax, and it can also ruin your credibility. Email what you want to share on your public page to someone who knows about the subject or just do a Google search.