A student’s guide to ‘netiquette’


Jocelyn Mintz

Netiquette is a simple but essential skill to learn .

By Nada Fadul

Communication is evolving and, over the last year, our relationship with technology has vastly changed. We’re all trying to stay close — from a distance. While we’re all grasping for a sense of normalcy in the midst of  such unprecedented challenges, the social norms of our once in-person interactions have been reshaped by a shift towards a virtual landscape. This global pandemic has led us to live almost every aspect of our lives online, and there isn’t exactly a class for digital etiquette, or netiquette. While the transition back to in-person learning is already underway, students should remember that netiquette is an essential aspect of success in learning, communication and social skills. 

We might be back into in-person classrooms sooner than you think, so it’s time to enter a virtual classroom as if it were an in-person experience. Here are a few rules that we should all keep in mind. 


  1. Don’t be late!

Even if we are attending class from the comfort of our homes, the school day still follows a strict schedule. There’s no question that arriving late to an in-person class would result in an unexcused tardy and an interrupted class. In the world of remote learning, arriving late to your Zoom class can be just  as disruptive as being late to an in-person class. 

We’re all too familiar with that infamous bell that rings whenever someone arrives late to Zoom, especially during our morning classes. The process of allowing a late virtual student into the lesson is a costly one: teachers have to stop sharing their screen, admit the student into the class, then figure out where they were before the abrupt interruption. Don’t get used to sleeping in until one minute before class starts; otherwise, you might be in for an attendance crisis next year. 


  1. Turn on your camera, please.

Face-to-face interactions can help us stay connected, especially in remote learning. Our body language, our facial expressions and our visual participation in class are often the only bits of normalcy we get to enjoy in virtual learning environments. Even if you’re having a bad hair day, turning on your camera is a cardinal rule of netiquette. 

With any rule, of course, there are some exceptions to keeping your camera on, such as being sick or not having a chance to eat lunch. But for anyone who finds it more convenient to hide behind a black screen, it’s important to make a genuine effort to be present in your classes. 

In order to promote engagement between students and teachers online, or simply between a group of students, let’s consider the importance of turning on our cameras in smaller, student-focused spaces, such as breakout rooms. Try taking small steps to gradually become more acclimated to a ‘camera-on’ lifestyle, turning on your camera for one class per day, then two, then all of them. 

“I believe that we can all try to do our part to become more active and engaged in our classes,” junior Saskia Gonzalez said. “I admit being guilty of having an off day and not wanting to have to stare at myself for four hours everyday, but participating in breakout rooms by turning on your camera is more important now than ever due to our limited social interaction with friends and classmates.” 


  1. Establish an appropriate learning space, one that doesn’t include access to your phone. 

Before the start of this unprecedented school year, MCPS advised all students and parents to set up a space conducive to learning. Now more than ever, it is vital to have a personal learning space located in a quiet place at home, or rather, the quietest place at home. 

Distractions in your academic workplace can be more detrimental than you think: a 2017 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that constant access to electronic devices is correlated with higher levels of stress and anxiety. Simply put, it’s in your best interest to set up a quiet space for learning, without your phone. 

Try to implement these rules throughout your next virtual school day and see the difference for yourself. In a virtual setting, the smallest changes can make a real difference to your success at school. 

While some things are going back to the way they were, we are all still navigating the world of virtual learning. During a time where we are so distant from one another, it is more important now than ever to actively engage with our classmates, teachers and mentors, even if it is only through a screen.