The Girl Scouts of USA and Today’s Netiquette

Girl Scouts of America

It’s a Happy 100th Anniversary for the Girl Scouts of America, who announced that 2012 is officially The Year of the Girl.

This week, March 12-16, 2012 is Girl Scout Week. In honor of their centennial  anniversary and as part of my annual tradition, I purchased a box of thin mint chocolate cookies from the two young girls who were sitting in front of the local grocery store. It reminded me of my own childhood of when I was proud to be a member of the Girl Scouts of America.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 50 million girls have worn the Girl Scout uniform in the past 100 years. But today, being a Girl Scout is more than just promising “Scout’s Honor.” Every Girl Scout must sign an Internet Safety Pledge promising they will practice good netiquette.

The pledge, developed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, was designed to protect our youth. This modern day pledge requires that each Girl Scout follow the rules of netiquette for Internet sites, including rules that are based on age of use, parental approval, and acknowledge public laws. They also require that young girls promise not to send spam, engage in cyber bullying, or to use bad language.

While these rules should not be limited to members of Girl Scouts, it’s a reminder to parents everywhere to make sure they know what their children are up to online, on Facebook, on their cell phones, and on all social networking sites. Children could be posting information that could prevent them from graduating high school, being accepted to college, or even worse, may put their lives in danger.

A recent Harlequin romance survey showed that 43% of women 18+ were comfortable in sending sexting messages to boys, with 27% having sent nude photos via emails or text messages. This disturbs me and would be in violation of the GSUSA Online Safety Pledge.

Children and parents should spend time talking about what rules of netiquette they should practice before logging on to their computers. If any suspicious activities are noticed, children should report it to their parents right away so the appropriate action can be taken.

At this time, I’d like to congratulate the Girls Scouts of America on their 100th anniversary and encourage everyone to support your local troop during their cookie drive. Juliette Gordon Low, who founded the Girl Scouts in 1912, would be very proud today

Photo credit: Girl Scouts of America

Julie Spira is a cyber relations and netiquette expert. She is the author of The Rules of Netiquette: How to Mind Your Manners on the Web. Visit her at rulesofnetiquette.com and Facebook.com/rulesofnetiquette

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