After the overwhelming response when I asked if parents should friend their teens on Facebook and my one of my favorite experts weighed in with their opinion (which everyone didn’t agree with), I wanted to share the other side of the coin.
Dr. Alex Packer, author of How Rude! The Teenagers Guide to Good Manners and Proper Behavior shares his insights if you do decide to friend your teenager;
There are two types of offspring. Those who would welcome their parents as Facebook friends, and those who would not. If your child belongs to the first category, take it as a great compliment and repay the kindness by minding your Facebook manners.
If your child belongs to the second category, can I convince you not to send a friend request to your child? No? Can I convince you to respect your child’s desire for privacy, to accept that teens may want and need to close their Facebook door to you? No? You mean it’s nonnegotiable? They must friend you if they’re going to be on Facebook? Okay. Got it. But please follow the Code of Facebook Etiquette for Parents of Teenagers.
- Rejoice in this opportunity to enter your child’s world. But remember that it is her world and you are there as an invited (or begrudgingly accepted) guest.
- Don’t post on your child’s timeline. No. Stop. Resist. Desist.
- Be a silent witness. Kids reach an age where they are very sensitive to being seen “in public” with you. Nothing is more public to your child than the Internet. Stay hidden. Think carpool. Sit back and read, listen, and learn. Let your child and her friends chatter away as if you weren’t there.
- If you must post, be discreet. Remember that anything you post on his timeline will be seen by all of your child’s friends.
- Talk with your child about the types of things she is okay with you posting.
- Never post a photo of your child on his page without asking permission.
- Never post a photo of your child on your page without asking permission.
- Don’t use your child’s timeline to post reminders. This is not the place to bug her about flossing her teeth after lunch.
- Hold your tongue. On your child’s Facebook you will come across the good, the bad, and the OUTRAGEOUS. If it’s something you can’t overlook, something dangerous or hurtful, bring it up with your child in private at an appropriate time.
- Talk with your child about good judgment, online safety, consequences, and consideration.
- Google your child by name and screen name. This is a good way to discover what the public can see.
- Be the parent. While your child may privilege you with Facebook “friendship,” you are not his “pal.”
- Never send a friend request to your child’s friends. Let them ask you.
- Don’t comment on your child’s friends’ postings. Your child knows your values and will only get defensive. Unless you feel that a moral or legal line has been crossed, or your child or his friends are targets or perpetrators of bullying, let it go.
- Be a role model. Watch what you post on your own Facebook. Your children and their friends may have access to it. Make sure it reflects the values and good judgment you wish for in your children.
- Don’t freak out if your child unfriends you. You trust your child to be out on his own in the real world. Just think of Facebook as another environment your child visits where you trust him to stay safe and make good decisions.
Now that we have this all figured out, rest assured that your child has already moved on to a new social media app or platform.
Adapted from How Rude! by Alex J. Packer, copyright © 2014. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.
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Dr. Alex Packer, Manners Guru to the Youth of America, is an educator and psychologist specializing in adolescence, parenting, substance abuse prevention, and minding your p’s and q’s. He is the author of 10 books for parents, teens, and teachers, including the award-winning How Rude! The Teen Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Out. His passion for nurturing healthy kids, healthy families, and healthy schools takes him around the world as a speaker, workshop leader, and consultant.