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The Manner of Social Media Manners


If you are reading this blog, then you probably are pretty good at social media. You might have navigated here from Facebook, or heard a Tweet, or someone e-mailed you about the great articles on Christian Work at Home Ministries. Maybe you Googled to get here directly, but chances are you use social media on a regular basis, and I bet you use it like a boss.

As much as you dominate social media, as our kids rise in age, they will make us adults look like social media infants with how they use online interaction. BUT, as excellent dads, we always have some wisdom to share, and, in this case it is some criteria for using social media like a gentleman rather than a Walmart-speaking troglodyte.

I mentioned in my last article that my social media manners list will have quite a few “don’ts” to mark off the edges of the social media playground. Unfortunately as a counselor I see/hear many people using social media in negative ways. It leads many people to quit social media all together. However, knowing the boundaries for appropriate social media use helps everyone know where we can truly enjoy online interaction.

You can go online and see many of these faux pas (“mistakes”) just going through your favorite social media ‘feed,’ but I’ve compiled a list of some of the wise social media “don’ts” to teach your kids

· Don’t ‘break up’ via social media. Or text. It’s bad form. Teach your kids to deal with emotional interactions via voice or ‘face-to-face.’

· Don’t give away movie plots. As I’m writing this, I’m in hiding from several forms of social media because I haven’t seen the newest Star Wars movie yet and there is always someone that will give away major plot points.

· Don’t bully others. More and more this is becoming an offense that is punishable legally or through work/school. It’s bad practice anyway; don’t say mean things to people or post hurtful pictures about people. Oh wait, Jesus said this the best in the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31): “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

· Don’t troll . . . or at least don’t become a troll. An “internet troll” is someone that tries to start arguments in social media. Sure, we’ve all posted something that we knew would be controversial, but if you troll frequently, then you become a troll. And nobody likes a troll.
By the way, the best way to defeat internet trolls is to ignore them. Don’t get baited into an online argument. This of course, brings me to the next “don’t:”

· Don’t get in online arguments. No one wins online arguments. People don’t change their minds based on online arguments. If we went back in time throughout this last year there were many, many people that participated in fruitless online arguments about politics.

· Don’t disrespect the military or anyone that has died or is hurting. Not too much to add on that one. Some kids might think that pictures or memes from 9/11 or the Holocaust are funny. They’re not. Teach your kids about appropriate public humor.

· Don’t send any pictures of body parts through social media. Unless it’s your elbow – I found the main picture for this article on my phone when my kids were little. It’s an elbow. For real. But, I ’bout blew a gasket when I saw it. Now I just think it’s funny.

· Don’t bait people to respond to you with a vague status. It’s just appears like the person posting needs attention. Vague status’ examples, “I can’t take it anymore” or “I can’t believe it’s happening again”

· Don’t post incessant pictures of cute, inspirational, or wise sayings. It’s social media, not share-a-saying media. The same thing goes for memes. Use memes and inspiring pictures the same way you’d use pepper on a nice steak . . .

· Don’t post cheesy religious statements and challenge people to type “amen” or to share it to prove their faith is valid. Urg, it’s the social media manners equivalent of belching loudly at the dinner table.

Which brings me to the conclusion of this ‘don’t’ list. There are other good ‘don’ts’ and I’d love to hear your responses for good social media guidelines. Make sure that you or your kids know that social media is fun, but that it also is VISABLE and doesn’t go away (yes, even Snapchat). So don’t do/say anything embarrassing that will come back to haunt you when you are on the Ellen show or run for public office.

The proverbial Rule of Thumb for social media to teach your kids: Would I stand up in the church pulpit and say this post to the congregation? – If the answer is a nervous laugh or an emphatic “NO” . . . then don’t post it. Only say what you’d say from the stage at church if your principal, grandparents and parents were in the audience. This guideline still gives you leeway for cat pictures, appropriate jokes, people crashing their skateboards, etc. But it does eliminate swearing, being mean to others, and half-naked pictures, and stuff you’d be embarrassed for an adult you respect to see.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brad Washburn is a father, husband, and Director of a Christian counseling center in Tampa, Florida. He has helped hundreds of people over the last 15 years. In particular, he desires to see fathers be “men after God’s own heart” — a description of King David in the Bible who was a lover, fighter, sheep herder, and harp player . . . .
Find out more at

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