Jane’s big Hanukkah gift this year was Facebook. She’s allowed to be on the social network so long as she uses it appropriately. There are two big rules on Facebook:
- Everything you write is always public (even if it’s a private message, even if you’ve blocked someone, even if, even if….)
- You cannot be friends with any adults. (not even Mom and Dad)
There was a great article today at Mamapedia about a mom unfriending a nine year old child. The article showed great wisdom in hindsight. A little foresight might have made things smoother in the neighborhood.
Before you friend a child, any child but particularly your own, ask yourself what it might achieve. If your child is under 13 they aren’t supposed to be on Facebook but that’s not because of maturity or Facebook caring about childhood. It’s because Facebook buys and sells your data and it’s illegal to buy and sell data from children under 13. If you don’t want your data bought and sold stay tuned, I’ll provide you with a solution for that little problem tomorrow.
If your child is thirteen and on Facebook I’d like you to answer the following questions with a simple yes or no:
- When I bring my child to school I hang out with him/her on the schoolyard and chat with the kids.
- When I bring my child to a school dance I stay for the first song or two, just to see how cute everyone looks all dressed up.
- I make playdates for my 14 year old because they are not capable of making plans yet.
- My child is super excited to see me in the afternoon and often asks me to join in games with all the other kids.
- Sometimes when I’m chatting with a half dozen of my mommy friends I miss my kids and wish they could be there with us.
- When I go to a luncheon with my girlfriends I pull out my phone and give them a slideshow of my kid’s pictures and they always love it and want more.
- I need more teenage friends.
If you’ve answered Yes wholeheartedly to any of these questions then we diverge on our parenting. If the answers are no, as I suspect they are for most of us, then I’m confused about why you would want to cripple your child with your presence in their social network.
If you’re worried about stranger danger (not my concern but I totally get it if it’s yours), then why would you introduce everyone you’ve ever met at a conference and all of their friends to your child?
I’m not planning on being at my son’s prom any more than I’d planning on being part of my daughter’s Facebook timeline.
You absolutely may have different ideas about how a parent and child should connect in social media, but I can tell you this one incredibly important thing right now. The authors at Mamapedia talk about kids being teased about their pictures on Facebook. If you have pictures of your kids on your Facebook timeline make sure that they are pictures your children want shared with their classmates.
Women love to connect. We love to share in each other’s joys and uplift one another in times of need. The unanticipated consequence of Mommy Blogging and social networking is that we’re infringing on our children’s spaces and robbing them of the opportunity to make their own first impression. Let’s all step back a moment and think about a few ways we can connect with adults without totally humiliating our children.
And as always if you want privacy keep a journal, nothing here is private. Even if…
Recently I wrote about why I would never fan my child’s school on Facebook.