Are You "Friends" With Your Child on Facebook or Twitter? Should You Be?
With back to school time here again, it's important for parents, guardians and caregivers to be aware of the huge impact social media plays in the lives of their children. There have been increasing reports on the news of not only adults stalking children via social media, but also children becoming victims of tech-savvy kid bullies.
I enjoy social media as well as the next person. What do you think of the growing trend of Moms and Dads being “friends” with their children or other young relatives on Facebook and/or Twitter? I’d never really thought about it until I received a FB friend invite the other day from my 15-year-old niece. I was stunned at the emotions this simple act aroused in me.
First of all, this is my baby. Yes I know she’s 15, but I remember her in diapers. So one of my first emotions was a sense of wanting to protect her. I don’t want any predators stalking her account and trying to become more than Facebook friends. I also don’t want her exposed to a lot of the craziness you see posted on the social media these days. Not wanting to be rude I went ahead and confirmed her as a friend. Next thing I know I get a follow me on twitter message. What? Oh my goodness. Twitter is even more wide open than FB. What to do, what to do? The jury’s still out on that one. I haven’t followed her on twitter yet, no offense dear.
I am reluctantly coming around to accepting the fact that more and more of my young relatives are growing up and that social media is a part of their lives. While it was something that wasn’t even around when I was a child, computers and internet sites are a part of these kids’ lives almost from birth. They don’t see it as bad or good, but as a natural part of life, like bicycles were to me.
I guess I must admit too, there was a little element of shame. I’m “good” Aunt Pam and that’s how I want to remain being seen in their eyes. What on earth would they think if they saw some of the conversations my friends and I engage in when we let our hair down and relax, just shooting the breeze, on Facebook?
After pondering this for awhile, I believe I have come to peace with an acceptable compromise. FB can be a parent’s friend in a way. I’m finding that it is a good way to keep abreast (ok, spy if you will) of what’s going on in the lives of young people we care about. For example, a recent post from one young relative read “Yay, got the house to myself. I can watch tv in peace.” Perfectly innocent in her mind.
So instead of saying I saw on FB you’re posting you’re home alone, dangerous, blah, blah, blah, it was a great opportunity to have a calm conversation regarding safe and responsible use of social media. I can also discreetly click on pictures from their male friends to see how old they look and see what type of things the boys are posting. Clean fun teen conversations or profanity-laced tirades?
And the problem with being embarrassed, well a little more research into how FB works solved that problem. I found out that I can elect to share certain posts with everyone or only a few. Who knew? Well probably most everyone but me. lol. But now I know. Final analysis? Facebook is my friend/ally. All I have to do is use it, instead of letting it use me or my children. What say you?