Face it,Facebook is not for old people. Sure people of all ages can join, share pictures and have a blast, but Facebook was originally created for college students and remains a young person’s vehicle. As soon as parents started joining, websites detailing “parent Facebook fails” and “embarrassing parenting comments” started sprouting on the Internet to hilarious results. Most recently parents have started using Facebook as a method of punishing kids who cyber bully or post inappropriate pictures on the social networking site.
While many write off parent/child social networking interactions as funny and awkward, navigating Mark Zuckerberg’s creation can have serious repercussions. So to help out, here are a few tips to get you primed for being a parent on Facebook.
1. Be Careful What Pictures You Post - Spoiler Alert: the Internet is full of freaks. This is something to consider especially when sharing pictures of younger kids. You have to be mindful of the weirdos out there in the world. Yes, I’m sure you had a great time at the beach, but save the swimsuit pictures for the private collection. Speaking of private…
2. Get Familiar With Privacy Settings – Not enough people know about the ever-changing privacy settings on Facebook. It’s always good to try to stay up on the newest developments as Zuckerberg and company are always trying to modify their privacy settings to make your information available to advertisers and complete strangers. That’s why you should try to check the settings so that pictures you do post of you and your kids don’t get filtered through the rest of the web without you knowing.
3. Don’t Insult The Other Parent – This should go without saying: keep your personal business off of Facebook. If you have drama, there’s no need to make a status about the trials in your life. That’s a life rule. But you should not put your child support/custody/baby momma drama as a Facebook status. First of all, you and the parent probably share some of the same friends, so you’re letting everyone in on your dysfunction. Finally, you never know when or how long those messages will stay around. What if your kid decides to look up mom and dad’s Facebook statuses one day? Airing out all of that dirty laundry while having a kid is the lowest thing a parent can do on Facebook.
4. Set An Age Parameter – My kid won’t be on Facebook until she’s at least 16. Maybe 18. There really is not much good a 12-year-old can do on Facebook.
5. A Friend “Request” Is Just That… A Request – If you indeed make your kid wait until he or she is 18 and presumably out of the house before joining Facebook, then your power to dictate what goes on in the social network world ends. Maybe your kid does not want you all in his or her business during college. You’ll just have to accept that and trust that your kid doesn’t have half-naked pictures next to bags of weed and kegs. Don’t take it personally if your friend request is denied. Facebook is a realm where kids want to be kids (of age, 18-year-old “kids” of course) with other kids. Sometimes parents are not welcome.
6. Don’t Be Embarrassing – Play it cool. If your kid says something on Facebook that worries or concerns you, pick up the phone and talk it out. Don’t leave long comments that’ll only make you sound lame and make your kid embarrassed. Also, if you’re going to address your kid’s Facebook status, make sure it’s worth the call. Nagging the kid because of an “I’m stressed because of this test” status will only make him or her reluctant to be open. Facebook can really be way to connect with your child as you get to see the real person in a comfortable environment that most parents were not privy to 10 years ago. The last thing you want to do is make your child want to shut down or even block you. Observe. Pray. Do whatever, just don’t nag the kid with every status update.
Facebook can be a great bonding experience for kids and parents. While kids are off to college, Facebook can allow parents to get a glimpse of the child’s life during those four lonely, worried years. But, as in every stage of your child’s life, you have to handle the social networking landscape with care. How you play it can affect your relationship with your child and those closest to you.