A Vademecum for WhatsApp Groups

A Vademecum for WhatsApp Groups

We use WhatsApp groups for practically everything. They’re common for friend groups, siblings, colleagues, cousins, teammates, classmates… the list goes on. Group chats make life easier for us in so many ways—from agreeing on meeting places and times, to sharing media with others…

However, communicating online in a multi-person group can be complex and a source of stress and misunderstanding.

First of all, messages can "invade" our lives.

In such large group chats, messages are almost constantly coming through. Being part of five, ten, or even more groups, we may feel like our phones are attacking us!

It’s important to remain in a group only if we truly find it helpful. If the costs outweigh the benefits or if the group makes us nervous, it is better to exit the chat, to silence it, or to visit the chat rarely.

It’s important to be aware of the importance of this process.

Conversations via chat don’t allow for a real understanding of the nuances of communication that we perceive face-to-face.

With the protection a screen offers, we easily forget that there are real people on the other side and wind up getting into arguments. In WhatsApp, it’s common to see people, who typically wouldn’t hurt a fly, getting into fights.

In these cases, the ideal thing is to have someone who ends the argument by suggesting that all parties arguing address the issue face-to-face at a later date, rather than partaking in the argument or trying to mediate in the chat. That way, people will be mindful of their tone and that of the interlocutor, making them consider the other person’s point of view.

The biggest problems arise when the group is made up of strangers

There are WhatsApp groups made up of people who hardly know each other and have nothing much in common besides some irregular circumstance. A classic example of this is the group for parents of students in the same class, designed to streamline communication and programs relating to their children's school activities.

WhatsApp groups are quite common in schools amongst parents and students—so much so that nowadays people don't even think twice about being a part of them.

It's nice to see in Italian county (Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna) come up with a fresh idea for "WhatsApp groups for parents of kindergarteners” to better use the tool. They decided to offer all parents some guidelines on the proper use of messaging apps ( Vademecum - Whatsapp is the full text – only in Italian language).

This text was written after a survey was completed by 140 parents and 30 teachers, and drawn up with the help of pedagogists.

Some Tips for Parents from the Vademecum – WhatsApp

1. "Use the group as a 'virtual bulletin board,' posting only notices, information, and activities that pertain to the class," to avoid the proliferation of any kind of "virtual gossip."

2. To limit "the use of the group for general matters of the class." The chat shouldn’t be a container for any sort of information and comments, possibly resulting in thwarting the usefulness of the app.

3. "In the event of controversy or conflict in the group," it’s better to "meet in person, organizing a meeting between teachers and all parents.”

4. Establish a moderator: there should always be a person chosen at the beginning who can collaborate well with teachers and other parents. They would be a "service" figure, specifically chosen by all and for whom some training is also provided.

This is an initiative that invites us to behave with a sense of responsibility and respect for others throughout our daily lives, including while taking part in a group chat between parents.

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