Log out of social media blunders and login to online etiquette

Older generations were born at a time with handwritten letters and telephone operators and thrown into an age of digital communications. Today, they’re surrounded by numerous social media platforms. Navigating the world of online communication presents all kinds of challenges, and the stakes are high. People of all ages feel overwhelmed and left behind. There are so many different apps and websites promising to connect people and a whole new set of rules for social media etiquette.


Facebook is a website that connects billions of people around the world. Users accept friend requests from their friends and family, then they share status updates, videos and photos. This platform is a great way to stay in touch with your grandkids, your college friends, and your old neighbors as you scroll through a glimpse of their lives.


Snapchat is a mobile application that sends pictures, also known as selfies, and short videos. The photos have a lot of different filters that change a user’s appearance. You can send a snapchat directly to one person or to a group. These photos will only last a couple seconds. Snapchat also has stories that are posted for 24 hours before they go away. Stories are visible to all of your snapchat friends.


Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters about breaking news, updates about your day and memes. Memes are those funny pictures with text across them. Hashtags are important on Twitter. When a hashtag is trending it means a lot of people are using that hashtag. Users retweet and like posts from other people that are interesting or entertaining.


Instagram users post photos and videos with a caption to describe them. Then you scroll through and like or comment on the photos that your friends post. Instagram also has stories, similar to Snapchat stories. Hashtags are a big part of Instagram posts. They work to connect your photos with other related posts. For example, if you’re watching the Super Bowl and post a photo with #SuperBowl, your picture will appear with the other Instagram posts that use #SuperBowl. People who are following the game can search the hashtag and see what other users are posting about it.

TMI and oversharing

Remember that the information you share online is public. It can be shared, liked and spread around the Internet for everyone to see, so make sure to protect your privacy. As a general guideline, think before you post. There is such a thing as sharing too much information. Is that status/comment/photo something that people want to see on their timelines? Oversharing can be an embarrassing social media blunder. The photos you like and share are public, so make sure your social media activity is appropriate.

Ask first, post second

Be considerate with the photos you share online and when. For example, a lot of new moms and dads want to be the ones who introduce their baby to the world. The same goes for engagements and other important announcements. Grandma and grandpa should wait before posting anything about these big events. If you’re not sure whether or not to post, just ask. You may or may not get permission, but the gesture will always be appreciated.

Less is more in the comment section

Think twice before commenting on every post and be careful what you say. Kids, grandkids, and people in general don’t want to be criticized for their clothes and their lifestyles, especially on a public profile. This can be awkward and damaging to your relationship. Comments are public, so make sure you’re saying something good. When it comes to commenting, less is more. This means you should limit how often you comment on other posts and keep your comments brief.

Use private messages

Social media sites were designed for people to share their lives publicly, but there is a private messaging function. Private messages are a better way to have real conversations with your loved ones, so don’t forget to use this feature. Younger generations especially appreciate direct messages and will be more likely to offer a personal response via private message than a public post.

Establish social media boundaries

Remember that you can be blocked or unfriended just as easily as your friend request was accepted. It’s a privilege to be connected on social media, but it’s not worth damaging relationships over. It’s okay for people to establish ground rules and boundaries online, and it doesn’t mean they love you any less. Your kids and grandkids love you and want to connect with you online. They understand that you’re still learning how to use the Internet properly. Accept their help and let them establish boundaries.

Digital communication is the new norm. Your kids and grandkids grew up with social media integrated into their daily lives. If you’re not connected online, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and left behind. It’s not too late to get plugged into the popular apps that are fueling today’s web communication frenzy. There will always be a place for handwritten letters and personal phone calls, but in the age of the Internet, it’s important to get connected.