Sure, Facebook can be a great place for your kid to interact and socialize with friends, but it can get ugly in there and fast.
I just read this piece on Daily Mail called "The horrifying week I spent spying on my 11-year-old daughter's Facebook page," which pretty much gave every reason I need to believe that friending your kid -- younger teens in particular -- on Facebook is a good idea (and that 11-year-olds shouldn't be on Facebook to begin with -- it's not legal and they're too young).
But just because you friend your kid doesn't mean you have to become a nuisance. You need to stay cool (so your son or daughter can stay cool too). Here are five rules to follow when friending your kid on Facebook.
5 Rules When Friending Your Kid on Facebook
1. Make this part of the deal BEFORE your teen opens a Facebook account: It's best to make this a rule up front, so they don't feel policed later in the game. You can discuss that as your teen gets older, depending on their behavior, you will consider dropping off their friend list (in fact, I think this is a really good idea as your teen hits 16 and 17).
2. Keep quiet: It's best to just remain a silent observer if you're one of your kid's friends on Facebook. You're there to keep things on the up and up for your child, not to put your two cents in on every bit of your teen's social life. Parents can be a little embarrassing, in case you've forgotten. If you simply must respond, a simple "Like" every now and then will do.
3. Don't start friending all your kid's friends -- even if they invite you: It's best to let your kid's social circles be your kid's alone. Let them have their own friends. Don't be that mom.
4. If you see something negative happen, discuss it with your child offline: If you see someone cursing or name-calling or displaying some other inappropriate behaviors on your teen's Facebook, discuss them with your child offline. Don't jump into the middle of things on his or her wall. You can discuss with your teen what's best to do in the situation -- whether that means de-friending someone or having your kid talk it over with the person, on his or her own terms. Of course, if you feel there's a real danger -- predators, bullies, etc. -- you may have to take matters into your own hands, but even that doesn't have to occur online.
5. Remind your kid it's about safety: Remember, you're not there to invade your child's privacy or embarrass them (no, of course, they still won't understand). You're there for safety's sake only. Remind your child that everything online is public knowledge anyway, so they shouldn't be talking about other kids, being mean, or revealing private matters. All it takes is one of your friends logging on to show anyone else your wall and your remarks. In other words, if they can't say it in front of you, maybe it's not appropriate for a fairly public forum like Facebook.
Note: Be aware that there are Privacy settings on Facebook that allow you to block who sees certain things on your wall. For this reason, you might still want to pop your head over your kid's shoulder once in awhile.
Are you friends with your kid on Facebook? Do you follow these rules?
Image via mangpages/Flickr