Are you friends on Facebook with all your family members? Should you be? What are the risks? What are the benefits? Parents on Facebook is a delicate thing. For that matter, monitoring your kid’s activities on the Internet in general is a delicate thing. It’s part of your parenting job, but it could promote secrecy just as mishandling being your kid’s friend on Facebook can backfire badly.
A recent It’s a Tech World After All cartoon, by my son Aaron Sallan, highlighted in a humorous manner, how it could all go wrong.
We ended up with a number of comments and reactions from David (@macknowledge), Susan (@RaiseTheQueen), Terez (@terez07), Vincent (@CuteMonsterDad), Jack (@TheJackB)” Dad (@DanDadDoes), Beth (@blogchatnews and @beth_collier), Jessica (@jesskristie), and others (note that all the names that follow a “@” are Twitter names).
@TheJackB said, “I had fun asking my own mother not to embarrass me when she came on to Facebook.” He hit the nail on the head with that comment, as I doubt it was “fun” when his mother posted certain things on his Facebook wall? Whether or not JackB’s mother embarrassed him or not, given that he’s an adult, is somewhat irrelevant as I suspect he could handle it and that is not my point.
But our younger kids, who are so susceptible to peer pressure, can’t handle the embarrassment very well if a parent were to do what Dad did in Aaron’s comic strip. Our kids would not only be mortified but they’d have a serious problem with their other real Facebook friends who would not feel very comfortable being that aware of a Mom or Dad lurking on their friend’s Facebook profile!
The likely result, as Aaron portrayed in the next It’s a Tech World After All cartoon would be the parent’s banishment as their kid’s friend.
My other work includes writing the A Dad’s Point-of-View columns and hosting the radio show of the same name. I have become, in my own words, a layman expert and I’ve repeatedly cautioned parents about their interaction with their children and Social Media.
Yes, become your kid’s Facebook friends, but NEVER say or post anything! Be invisible. Dad violated this rule of mine as bad as a parent can. Please be clear that this rule applies to even saying something you might think of as innocent or complimentary such as congratulating your child on an accomplishment they posted on their Facebook wall.
What could be wrong with that? Everything! Why? Because it draws attention to the fact that you are there. Your kid’s friends won’t feel safe, won’t trust your child, and you’ll be in hot water. Trust me on this.
Social Media is a wonderful tool for all of us. I think it can be extremely valuable for parents so they can understand the world their kids live in. I do think parents should become their kid’s friends on Facebook. Just be quiet about it!
You can pre-order my new book, A Dad’s Point of View: We ARE Half the Equation at the Store at BruceSallan.com. The book will be published in May, just in time for Father’s Day. Get it for the dad in your life, the mom who wants her husband to be the best dad, or for yourself.