The Do's and Don'ts of Connecting with your kids on Facebook

family-portraitphoto: cole24_

A few weeks ago, I sat down with teenage techie Jordan Drake,19, who broadcasts a podcast on technology, as well as a live call-in radio show and website, called Digital Life Radio. Since Jordan scored his first job (and a Macbook Pro) from Rush Limbaugh when was 16, he’s been working professionally helping people make technology work for them.

Because Jordan is a computer genius, and a teen, I asked him about the protocol for parents who want to connect with their children on the popular social networking site Facebook. “Facebook can be a great way to show your kids that you want to connect on their level, but it can also be a sure fire way to embarrass them if you’re not careful,” Jordan says.

First, a parent who’s not familiar with Facebook must expand his/her vocabulary with a few Facebook terms.

Friend: (n) a person with which you have connected and have mutual access to public information. (v) to request to become “friends” with someone. (ex: “I’ll friend you on Facebook”) Past tense: Friended. I’m not lying, people actually say this!

Wall: (n) the front page of a Facebook Profile, where friends (see above) can post notes, links, photos and videos.

Status: (n) the statement at the top of your profile page where you post what you are doing at the moment! You can also integrate your status update with Twitter, but that would require a whole new menagerie of vocabulary words!

Facebook: (n) The actual Facebook website. (v) To send a message, write on one’s wall, or otherwise connect on Facebook. (ex: “I don’t have time to talk right now, just Facebook me later”)

Here are Jordan’s suggestions for what and what not to do:

Do:

  • Be honest with them about what you are trying to do. Let them know that you are trying to communicate with them, not “spy” on them or encroach on their space.
  • Talk to them beforehand, and ask their opinion. You don’t want to be shocked when your child refuses your friend request!
  • Approach your kids’ friends only if you know them personally, and would feel comfortable doing so in real life. Would you strike up a conversation at the mall or church? Go ahead and “friend” them, but don’t be too disappointed of they don’t respond.

Don’t:

  • Do anything sneaky in order to gain access to your child’s Facebook Profile, always be honest and open.
  • Approach your kids’ friends whom you do not know in person, or wouldn’t strike up a conversation with in public
  • Fill up your child’s profile page with comments from you. Keep in mind that they still need to have space and protect their “cool cred.”
  • Post embarrassing photos or stories about them without permission. The 2 year old bath tub picture? Probably not a good facebook photo! Now once they are married with kids of their own, post away… the more embarrassing, the better!

Jordan is a homeschooler, and noted that the parent/teen Facebook interaction may be different in different family situations. Homeschoolers seem to be more likely to socialize as families, and therefore be more comfortable interacting with their friends’ parents. The bottom line is to communicate with your teen; find out how he/she feels about you being on Facebook, and what boundaries and guidelines you want to set for your online connection. And most of all, express that you love and respect your teen, and you want to use technology as a way to deepen your relationship. I bet you’d be surprised how fun it’ll be!

How do you use technology to connect with your teen?

When Sarah isn’t winning “Tech Mom of the Year,” she blogs at www.reallifeblog.net , and is founder and editor of www.HighCountryMomSquad.com. Find Sarah on Twitter at www.twitter.com/reallifesarah .

Jordan Drake, teen, podcaster, tech genius and all around cool guy, produces a podcast and radio show at www.DigitalLifeRadio.net and Tweets from www.twitter.com/jdrake90 .

Comments

  1. I guess I’m likely in that my children are young enough that they’re growing up with this stuff already in place. My daughter, 8, WANTS a facebook profile, but I’ve told her she needs to wait a bit longer. She does already have a yahoo account and sends me emails, chats with me and other family members, etc. I’m sure that once she joins facebook, she’ll add me as a friend without a thought. =)

    (P.S., for what it’s worth, we homeschool, too.)

  2. Oops – that should say LUCKY not LIKELY. Geez, I need some coffee… (where’s my cup…..)

  3. Donna (Hayes) Bramell says:

    Hey Sarah, I’m impressed. Do they pay you for this? Hope so. You’re pretty good. :)

  4. Donna! Thanks girl! The payment comes in links to my website and contributing to the bloggy/literary community! I adore Karla (founder of MMM), so I was happy she accepted my article!

    Did I overdo it on the exclamation points? For readers, Donna went to High School with me! And we reconnected on… Facebook! How appropriate.

  5. My daughter is only ten and not facebooking now, but I’m sure these tips will be helpful in the future. :)

  6. I enjoyed your article. It’s just about what I’ve come to do, as well! I have a 15 yo who is very internet and gadget friendly. My 12 yo still lives her whole life away from the computer. ;) I finally joined facebook, and friended my 15 yo. But he also uses bebo, myspace and at least 2 others whose names I can’t remember! Thanks for the reminder to keep in touch with my kids virtually!

  7. Well, I am a teen who hasn’t been homeschooled and I had no problem adding both of my parents, my grandma, and all of my aunts and uncles on Facebook because I would be as likely to just chat with them in real life as I would with my friends. But I think if you don’t already have a chatty-relationship with your kids, or if they are easily embarassed of you (I learned that being embarassed is counter-productive long ago) that adding them on Facebook isn’t going to help.
    So as far as relationship-building goes, it helps them grow but it isn’t a good place to start one.

  8. Great article,we homeschool all 3 kids and my 15 yr old son recently joined Facebook (with a little nudge from mom) and it has been a great thing for us. He and I connect so much on Facebook, his friends have also added me to their “Friend list” I can keep tabs on his computer activity and who he is “friending”. He will be downstairs in the playroom on his laptop and will send me “chat” requests about what is for dinner. Then he runs up the stairs laughing. He was also able to reconnect with friends that he went to kindergarten with and other homeschoolers in our support group.

  9. This was great. I am hoping to have facebook mastered before my kids get this age, but know that this is great info for a lot of people!

  10. I think this is a great article for facebook newbies.

    I originally signed up to keep tabs on my youngest, but now he’s out on his own some 200 miles away, so it’s one of our ways to keep up when time is short.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I shared this through my Facebook. I think there are great tips here!

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