Mind Those Manners: Kids Need Lessons in Email and Phone Etiquette

Julie Jargon::

If the email addresses of Amanda McCraw’s eighth-graders didn’t contain some portion of their names, she would have no clue who the senders were.

“There’s no subject line, no signature. It’s just, ‘Hey, can you send me that paper?’ ” said Ms. McCraw, a teacher and principal at a tiny school in rural Paicines, Calif.

Texting may be second nature to many kids, but composing an email seems like an ancient craft. And making calls—or answering one from a stranger? That’s so last century. Educators and parents are trying to teach kids digital etiquette so that when they enter the workforce, they will be able to communicate using words instead of abbreviations and emojis.

Ms. McCraw is so serious about it that she has made email composition a part of her students’ language arts grade. Each week she has her middle-school students email her about assignments they have completed in Google documents, just to get them in the habit. If the memos don’t contain a subject line, a salutation and a signature, they get marked down.