Why Parents Should Be On Facebook
(I sat there flabbergasted during the Q & A session when one mom asked what to do because her child wouldn't tell her his password. Seriously? Um…whose computer is it? Who's paying the electric bill? Just take the blasted plug away, lady!)
Uh sorry, I digress. Ahem. As a result of that seminar I joined Facebook to monitor my daughter (and later my son). Ashleigh was young (naïve?) enough to be excited about being my first "friend." She showed me the ropes, helped me set up my profile page, and let me know it wasn't the end of the world if I "ignored" something.
Despite her phenomenal training, I'm still far from Facebook savvy. But I've been nosing around there for a while now and I've discovered some additional parenting benefits aside from the obvious "making sure they're playing safe" stuff. Benefits like…
1. Reality Check
Being "friends" with your kid gives them a reality check whenever they consider posting something. Sure, we drill it into their heads that whatever they put online is out there for the world to see. Forever. But when they know mom (dad, grandpa, Aunt Lulu….) may read whatever they post, it really drives that point home. And uh, it gives parents a check too, because you never know which one of your kids or their friends may end up reading what YOU wrote.
Although I communicate with my kids every day, I still learn even more about them and what's going on in their lives when I visit their Facebook pages. For example: We had our daughter get a job during the spring of her sophomore year. Once her junior year started, she was taking some advanced classes, volunteering, running with her high school cross country team and juggling the job that required certain hours on specific days of the week. We had no idea how stressed out she'd become until I happened to read her status one day.
When her father and I approached her about it, she broke down. She’d assumed that quitting her job was not an option. Meanwhile, she’d become completely overwhelmed trying to balance it all. We were able to open a dialogue and work out a compromise before the situation got too bad.
3. Romantical Notions
Shhhh, Facebook makes it very convenient to stalk your children's romantic interests. You know, your teens are only truly "going out" with someone if it's Facebook official, right? I look for key things like any personal quotes and type of language used. Are all the posted pics appropriate? Just checkin'.
4. Glory Days
An unexpected Facebook surprise for me was reconnecting with old high school comrades. Okay, so on the surface this isn't exactly a parenting thing. Except that many of my former classmates are in or around the same point in their lives as I am, and we can share/commiserate/support each other in our parenting endeavors.
5. Catch the Wave
Whether you love Facebook, hate it, or are indifferent, social networking is the wave of the future. Facebook (or something like it) will be affecting social interaction for eons to come, so you may as well dive in. Just, um, be sure to set limits to control yourself and your kids or it can become a total time suck. Then you may find yourself working late into the night to meet a deadline because you were goofing around on Facebook for too long. Heh, heh.
Image by: Ben Stein