11 biggest mistakes for parents
who are Facebook friends with
first published on Tecca's Blog October 24, 2011
So your kids finally friended you on Facebook. Congratulations — you now have mind-blowing inside access to their online worlds. Now what? Step 1: Don't embarrass them! How? By avoiding the top 11 mistakes parents make on Facebook. Avoid them like the plague. You'll keep the peace with your tween or teen — and hopefully, your coveted friend status, too.
1. Don't over-share. Do all 1,200 of your son's friends need to know that he still sucks his thumb at night or that he bombed his driving test? No and no! If you think a wall comment will embarrass your child, it will. If you don't have anything nice to say... hold back. Respect your children's privacy online and off. It shows them you care. It also teaches them to respect their own privacy.
2. Realize that everyone sees your comments. Tread lightly and always remember that all of your children's Facebook friends can view every single comment you oh-so-lovingly post on their walls. That includes their BFFs, classmates, and (potentially) employers and teachers. Communicating on Facebook is anything but a private affair.
3. Don't pry. It's okay to casually ask your kid how he's doing on his wall — but only once in a long while. Not every day or even every week, and certainly not every hour. I'm a 36-year-old mom of three, and it would even embarrass me if my parents bugged me too often on Facebook. Thankfully they don't, but that doesn't mean they don't stalk my wall anyway. (Ahem, mentioning my status updates during phone conversations is a dead giveaway.)
4. Don't get too personal. Some topics are never okay to bring up on your teen's wall, like why the heck did they dump their significant other or if that fancy acne cream you bought them is clearing things up. Ask sensitive parent-child questions in person, in email, or via text or private Facebook message instead. Model the restraint you want them to have.
Sometimes you'll get lucky, and the answers to your questions will already be on your child's wall anyway, thanks to status updates and Place check-ins flowing in every two minutes.
5. Don't tag your child in photos. Not even the adorable brace-face ones — at least not without asking if it's okay first. Save those gems for Awkward Family Photos! Er, we mean, skip tagging altogether, and give tweens and teens a chance to forge their own identity online. Each pic you tag with her name — even those drooly baby pics — automagically appears in their profiles. Besides, you don't want anyone to snag those precious baby photos and then pretend your kid is theirs.
6. Never assume your kid can chat just because he or she is logged in. If your daughter doesn't reply to your Facebook chat request right away, she either forgot to log out, stepped away from the laptop, or — brace yourself — might not even feel like chatting with you.
Try not to take it personally. All three of my teenaged babysitters prefer not to chat with their parents on Facebook (or anywhere online) at all, "like ever." Texts and Facetime do the trick, they say.
7. Never, ever reply to comments for your kids. They cringe when you speak on their behalf in person. Why would you do it on Facebook? Even if you're dying to tell your daughter's friends that yes, she did get into Harvard, it's best to let your teen toot her own horn.
8. Don't nag kids to do their chores. It's not cool to remind them to scrub the toilet, fold the laundry, or take care of just about any other task right there on their walls for everyone to see (and laugh at). You'll only tick kids off. And, more importantly, you'll waste precious time you could spend nagging them in person.
9. Don't stalk their significant others. This starts with not friending said person in the first place. But if for some reason you are Facebook friends, don't comment on his or her wall. It mortifies your teen and makes you look meddlesome. However, that doesn't mean you can't peek around their Info page, though, hint, hint.
10. Don't chide or punish them. "You're grounded, mister!" is probably the last comment any kid wants littering their wall. Sure, disciplining kids via Facebook makes them feel worse about whatever it is they did, but admonishing your kids in such a public way erodes their trust in you. You'll also miss out on a valuable opportunity to talk to them in person about their behavior and what they should do to make it right.
11. Don't Like too much. Don't Like every picture, status update, comment, or link your teen posts. In fact, don't Like much at all. Sure, everyone likes a virtual pat here and there, but don't go overboard — not when your future adults are forging their own identities online, and, like it or not, asserting their independence from you.
Friends and family
It's a good sign if your tween or teen friends you on Facebook. Think of it as a testament to your child's maturity and self-control. (Or did you make them friend you?)
"Kids who (voluntarily) friend their parents get the concept of discretion and public persona," says Ariel Wiggens, a 20-year-old Starbucks barista from Long Beach, Calif. She's been of Facebook since she was a teenager.
"Unlike a lot of people in my generation and younger, I know when to draw the line between what's private and what's not," she says. "And I'm glad my parents do, too, especially in front of everyone online."
Be a good friendJust like you tell your kid, knowing the rules isn't enough. Following them is. The same goes for Facebook. If you forget all the above don'ts, just follow the Golden Rule. Be considerate and always treat your kids how you want to be treated on Facebook.
When in doubt, leave it out. Just say no to TMI. When you do, your little Facebook addict might actually think you're cool after all. Not that he'd actually say so... at least not on his wall, anyway.
Safe social surfing
For information on how to respect and protect your kids safe on Facebook without embarrassing them, check out Tecca's 9-step guide. Or drop by Facebook's Family Safety Center.
This story was written by Kim Lachance Shandrow and originally appeared on Tecca.