October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and National Bullying Prevention Month, giving us plenty of pause and cause to become digitally
mindful and make sure we think before we click. 

This month is a wake-up call reminding us to dig our heels in
deeper and take a stand for our families and for ourselves. 
It’s time to put the kibosh on blindly
entering our social security numbers and credit card information onto any old
website that inquires, and time to instill some serious consequences for those
children who blatantly harm others by spewing hatred online.  We have to be hyper-conscious about our internet
safety and security, be fiercely protective of our privacy and warn our
children about the dangers of cyber-bullying and the cautionary tales of online
plagiarism so that we may all become responsible digital citizens from this
point going forward. 
Simply put, we need to instill a little “netiquette” into our
lives.  Netiquette, a combination of internet
and etiquette, is a genius term that was coined to
guidelines for acceptable behavior on the Internet.  It is meant to keep all electronic activity
organized and civilized. It incorporates the more formal common courtesies online,
as well as the less formal codes of cyberspace. 
Whether you are proficient
online or a neophyte in the digital world, everyone knows the difference
between right and wrong, and should act accordingly.  Here are five crucial reminders to help keep you on track.

1. Practice the Online
Golden Rule.
Treat others online with the same regard, or better,
than you would treat them offline.  Go the
extra mile to be
and courteous. Remember that while you may be tapping away at a keyboard, the
other person cannot hear the tone of your voice or read the visual cues
from your face and body to better understand your meaning. All of this is lost
in online communication and can come across as mean or rude, even if you did
not intend them this way.
Avoid typing your
communications in all caps.  IT LOOKS
 If you want to emphasize a word, use asterisks, italics or emoticons to evoke your
2. Preserve Your
We have been
reprimanded repeatedly to keep personal information to ourselves. Especially in
our age of over-sharing, we must set limits and boundaries and be smarter about
what we will reveal both personally and professionally, as well as
financially.  It is not worth the gamble.  Do not willingly divulge details unless it is extremely safe to do so. Keep things closer to the
vest.  A little mystery in these times could do us all a
bit of good.
3. No More Bull!  There are new ways to tease and taunt
online that result in ruining reputations and exposing people without their
knowledge or consent.  This behavior is
malicious and deliberate and has been labeled Cyber-bullying.  Never ever type or post anything, including
messages, videos or photos that would be considered slanderous or negative content
about another person.  
It is reckless and harmful and only exposes the abuser as a foolish individual. Learn from the phrase, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all” and live it! 
4. Don’t Play
with Plagiarism. 
With the World
Wide Web at our fingertips, it is way too easy to adopt another person’s words as
our own.  Avoid any implication of plagiarism by making sure to cite and credit the
author of your sources.  If you do not, be prepared to face the unpleasant consequences and embarrassment.  
5. Update Your
Status Sparingly. 
Online social networking sites such as
Facebook and Twitter are meant to be used to enhance and complement your
existing offline life.  You should not
use them to create an imaginary life where you are more successful, interesting
or attractive than you are in person. Apply extreme discretion when disclosing any type of personal information, you never know what might come back to haunt you in the

Do you have any personal stories you’d like to share about your experiences online? Any lapse in judgment with regard to your digital responsibility?  Share with us, we’d love to hear from you!