Why Parents Should Be On Facebook

A few years back I went to a seminar on computer safety for kids. I learned some interesting things about forms of social networking and even unique parenting techniques.

(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.

2. Sup?

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.

Just sayin’.

Image by: Ben Stein


Heidi Willis said...

These are great points (and I totally agree with the GRR moment with that other parent!)

I love facebook. I started it with the intention of catching up with friends, but I now have a bunch of kids (teens and preteens) as my friends, and the road works both ways! I am extra careful what I post that it's appropriate for them too.

My kids aren't old enough yet for facebook (or haven't shown an interest in it yet) and so I hope that I'm ahead of the learning curve.

I'm sure as soon as they're ready it'll be something else and I'll be behind again! :)

Lacey in the City said...

I loved this - you made great points. My mom is on Facebook and sometimes calls me in NY from her home in LA within milliseconds of me updating a status or uploading a mobile picture. "Who's that friend?" "Ohh, drinking on a worknight huh?" Thankfully, I know that it's all in good fun for her, and it keeps her feeling involved and important in my cross-country life. I think it's a great idea for moms to be on Facebook.

My little sister, however, was a different story. My mom friended her, and my little sister rejected the friend request. This happened about three times before my mom realized that Little Sis was purposely denying her friendship request. At which point my mom said, "Alright. I'll just friend every single one of your friends to see what's going on with you, until you decide to friend me yourself." You can bet Little Sister sent a friendship acceptance then and there.

Ivy said...

I'm a huge facebook fan. I actually run contracts for companies that want to be on Facebook, but don't want to spend the time to do it themselves.

It's a great tool, but kids and college students miss use it and take it for granted.

Great post and great tips! Thanks for sharing!

Vivianne's Vista said...

These are really excellent tips Holly. I am an avid facebook stalker for my daughter and nephews. Whenever I see something inappropriate I make sure I contact my siblings to let them know what is going on. I have even defriended people who are her friends who I thought were not 'appropriate.' I then have 'the talk' with her about the dangers of socialmedia.

Most youths don't have the mental maturity to understand the weight and impact this 'toy' can have on their lives.