Although kids appear to spend all their time communicating via social media apps like SnapChat and WhatsApp, email continues to be the most important tool for formal communication. In particular, when communicating with teachers. However, with kids so used to using information communication tools, they often make the mistake of using similar language and style when emailing. Given that emails shape impressions of your child – and can make or break the impression of a person – it is important that they know a few rules about email etiquette. The interesting thing I’ve noted when teaching kids about email etiquette is you can’t assume they know anything or everything! Unless someone explicitly explains to them what to do and what not to do, they are going to revert to the only communication they are familiar with – texting lingo.

Email etiquette is a skill that will serve them through their school years, into university and onwards into the workforce. So when your child sets up their first email account, be sure to cover these five golden rules with them:

The subject line

The subject line of an email is there for a purpose. It tells the receiver what the email is about. A vague subject line such as ‘Hi’ can leave the reader wondering and may further lead them to ignoring the email altogether. A good subject line would put the gist of the email in five words. For example ‘Application of leave’ or ‘Resume for ‘Internship positions’ say much more, making it easier for the receiver to handle the mail and even retrieve it later, if they so require.

The address line

While different cultures have different ideas about how the address line should be, the world generally appears to be shifting towards acceptance of some informality. So instead of the formal letter format, one can stick to ‘Dear Mark’ or ‘Hello Mark’. However, many kids tend to ignore the address line altogether, given that they don’t use it at all for social media. That is considered to be rude though, on email. It is also considered rude when you write the address line completely in lowercase (dear mark) while a complete uppercase usage (DEAR MARK) is considered as shouting. It’s important they use correct capitalisation throughout.

The content

Put your content together in the shortest possible manner instead of writing lengthy sentences. Re-read what you have written and check for spelling and grammar. Never use offensive language, slang or shortened words (your and not ur), as they appear rude. Avoid responding to a mail when you’re angry. Finally, never send confidential information, unnecessary attachments, chain letters, forwards or mark your email as high priority, if it isn’t.

A few other things

When you write an email, keep in mind that it is as good as a public document. Emails can be shared and forwarded, so avoid writing rude things about any person via email. Sign off with your complete name and a ‘Thank you’ if you have requested for something. If you aren’t able to send an immediate response, let the other person know when they can expect to hear from you.

These are a  few basic email etiquette rules that can help you get started on great email writing. Remember that emails help you make good impressions, so make the most of it and have a safe online experience.

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