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Moms Talk: Setting Facebook Ground Rules

Before letting your kids dive head-first into the world of social media, it's important to first get a basic understanding of the technology at play.

When my son was almost 13, he wanted to join Facebook. Before allowing it, I signed up myself in order to understand how it worked and to provide some guidance related to his use of the social network phenomenon.

Once I gained a basic understanding, I allowed him to sign up for Facebook subject to some basic guidelines which have evolved over the past two years into the following:

  1. I must be your Facebook “friend” and you cannot block me.
  2. I must know your password.
  3. You must have the maximum privacy settings that "only friends" can read your information, or see your photos and wall. Your privacy settings must be checked frequently.
  4. You may not include our home address or any phone numbers on your
    Information page.
  5. You may not "friend" anyone you don't know personally (in the real world) and must be able to tell me how you know that person.
  6. Profanity is prohibited. If you use it and I see it, it will be removed immediately.
  7. Remember that your grandparents are among your Facebook friends so don’t
    write anything you wouldn’t want them to see and delete any offensive language by friends on your wall.
  8. Since I’m the parent, I’ll update the rules as needed.

These limits have worked well for us. I imagine some kids might not need rules while others might need more rigid ones.

As parents, we cannot make that decision, however, without first having a basic understanding of the technology, which is evolving almost faster than we can keep up with it. I suspect that by the time they’re in high school, today’s sixth graders will be using some new must-have technology that hasn’t been invented yet.

After about two years, when I thought I’d mastered this particular parenting challenge, my darling teen hit me with, "I'll bet you don't even know how to tweet, do you, mom?'"

Ryan Gauthier February 16, 2011 at 08:13 PM
Thanks for the input, Linda. Do you have any additional tips for parents trying to familiarize themselves with Facebook?
Linda Stanch February 16, 2011 at 09:09 PM
Facebook is not to be feared but embraced, particularly if you have teens. Set up your own account and look for friends from high school or college. You will be shocked that they are still around. At the same time, click on your child's page every now and then, just to see what's going on. I have one child in college and one in high school and you can see a lot about their friends but hopefully not too much as they have the privacy controls set correctly. I have befriended a few of my daughters' friends from when we lived in NYC and sometimes make short comments, kind of like a surrogate mentor. Most of the girls from NYC from elementary school have these really out of control photos posted at drinking parties, not good and a good reason why we moved back to Minnesota.
Caitlin Burgess February 16, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Thanks Linda! Anyone else have some insight?
Pattye February 18, 2011 at 01:58 PM
While this is "tongue in cheek", it is on point. Check this out as it relates to parents and their kids use of social media. Http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?desktop_uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dyu4zMvE6FH4&v=yu4zMvE6FH4&gl=US&bmb=1
Pattye February 18, 2011 at 11:55 PM
Because I can't tell if the above link is correct, try this one: http://www.theonion.com/video/facebook-twitter-revolutionizing-how-parents-stalk,14364/

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