Activity Four: Digital Etiquette

Part I: In Advisory--Introduction

Digital Etiquette can be defined as the standards of conduct expected by other digital technology users. Although proper etiquette can/should be applied to all forms of technology, it is especially important when using email and cell phones. To better understand this concept, watch the following clip with your advisory:

Advisory Discussion Questions:
  1. What rules of etiquette do you follow in "real world" interactions (e.g. face-to-face communication)?
  2. Consider your digital interactions (e.g cell phone, IM, email). Do you interact/behave differently online?
  3. What rules of etiquette/standards of conduct should we follow when using digital communication tools?

Part II: At Home--Interaction

Email Etiquette
Email is an incredibly popular communication tool for students and adults. According to, "Statistics, extrapolations and counting by Radicati Group from August 2008 estimate the number of emails sent per day (in 2008) to be around 210 billion" This equates to more than 2 million emails being sent every second.

Many of the emails we receive each day are spam, others are simply unnecessary, and many do not follow the basic rules of email etiquette. Mass distribution, informal writing (e.g. LOL, KEWL, BFF), missing subject lines, and replying to sender vs. replying to all can leave us overwhelmed and frustrated. Do you use email properly? Watch the following clip with your parents:

Cell Phone Etiquette
The first commercial cell phone call was placed October 13, 1983. In the ensuing 25 years, cell phones have become something of a "necessity" for many of us, including teenagers. Consider these recent statistics from CITA:
  • Teens are a huge consumer market segment and spend more than $100 billion annually
  • Today, approximately 79% of all teens (17 million) have a mobile device – a 36% increase since 2005
  • Most teens have a conventional cell phone while about 15% own a smart phone

Like email, cell phones have the potential to be used improperly. The Part 1 starter video, while humorous to most, is not far removed from reality. It seems we use our phones nearly everywhere and at almost any time. Has your ringer ever caused an interruption? Do you carry on conversations at inappropriate times? Watch the following video clip with your parents:

Home Discussion Questions:
  1. Students: Do you feel that you practice good etiquette when using email? Your cell phone? Why or why not?
  2. Parents: Do you feel that your child practices good etiquette when using email? Their cell phone? Why or why not?
  3. Students and Parents: What are some guidelines for your family regarding proper digital etiquette?

Home Activity
As you saw in the videos and discussed with your family, digital etiquette is an important but often-overlooked component of modern life. Unfortunately, we often learn etiquette the hard way; by making mistakes that otherwise could be avoided with a little common sense and some reasonable guidelines.

Part One: Survey
Below are links to two short surveys about digital etiquette; one is for students and the other for parents. Please take a few minutes to complete the surveys. The surveys are taken anonymously and the results will be compiled and shared later this month.

Student Survey: (Survey Closed)
Student Responses: Click Here
Parent Survey: (Survey Closed)
Parent Responses: Click Here

Part Two: Images of Etiquette
Many movie theaters, waiting rooms, museums, and other places have signs posted reminding visitors to turn off their phones. Similarly, most schools and businesses have rules about email use and will post guidelines in visible areas. Our middle school, though, has no such signs or guidelines on display.

With your parents' help, create a simple image/sign that addresses an important aspect of digital etiquette. It can be simple like the example shown below (please create something more original) but it must be saved as an image (jpg) file. You can use Ink Art to draw, Photoshop Elements to edit, Flickr Creative Commons to find images, take your own using a digital camera...the choice is completely up to you.


When you are finished, save/name your image using your initials and your advisor's last name (example: pwtourais) and email it to this address:

This will make your etiquette image/sign part of our Flickr Photostream. Visit the Photostream to see all the work submitted by the 7th grade.

Part III: In Advisory--Reflection

Once the students and parents have completed the surveys, the composite results will be made available here:

Advisory Discussion Questions
  1. Please debrief/discuss the results of the surveys and the Images of Etiquette activity.