How to Be Friends with Kids on Social Networks. Rules for Parents
With the development of the modern technologies in general and the social media in particular, the notion of “friendship” has spread from the real life to the virtual world as well. The vast majority of adults, as well as adolescents, create and actively use profiles on the various popular social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Linkedln, Twitter, etc. It has become commonplace to add to your online “friends” list nearly everyone you know, be those your childhood friends, family, new acquaintances, colleagues or even people you have never met in person. Younger kids and teens get especially excited about their virtual network, as they often believe that the number of the online “friends” speaks for their popularity. However, when it comes to social friendship with their parents, a lot of the children would hesitate or simply refuse to accept the requests. But why is this a slippery ground? Can parents and children be friends on social sites without feeling awkward around each other? In what ways should parents monitor social media of their kids? Keep reading to learn more.
According to a 2015 Pew research ‘Teens, Technology and Friendships‘:
- 74% of parents (among which 81% of mothers and 66% of fathers) use Facebook; 27% of parents are assigned to Linkedln, 25% to Instagram and 23% to Twitter.
- 47% of parents were friends with their children on Facebook in 2015, compared to 76% in 2010.
- Over one-third of children admit they would rather “unfriend” their parents if given a choice.
- 44% of teens reported of their parents interfere into their online socializing with peers.
Considering these numbers, the tendency looks obvious: fewer teenagers each year let their parents friend them or follow on social media.
Pros of parents being a social media friend
- Parents wish only best for their children and have every right to know all about their online communication and activity, to be able to help and protect them.
- Thanks to following their kids online, parents can get much more information about their interests, mindset, as well as about surroundings and whereabouts.
- Children who befriend with their parents online might improve their behavior on the World Web.
Cons of parents befriending their kids online
- The social network is the place where children can freely communicate with their peers and create a small world of their own. Parents shouldn’t abuse their privacy of social media.
- There is a big generation gap between parents and their children. Even technically savvy parents do not always understand the entire structure and communication principles of some social sites. This may result in frequent arguments and misunderstanding in the family.
- The situation when children don’t allow parents friend or follow them on social media may be another reason for tension in the family
8 Commandments of Social Media Friendship for Parents
For good or for ill, in the age of omnipresent technology, social sites can help family members stay updated on each other’s lives. Parents who decide to interact with their children online should better stick to the so-called “middle ground,” where they stay connected with their kids, without going too far into the online public zone which children want to reserve for their peers. For the mutual comfort, parents should consider certain rules.
- Before sending friendship requests on social sites, you should better ask your children’s consent. Even if they agree, do not expect them to be happy about it. A profile on a social network is a child’s personal space to share with their peers; they have the right to certain privacy and should decide themselves if they want to let their family in. For the same reasons, it’s best to discuss beforehand what and how frequently your children would prefer you to “like,” comment, post, and tag on their online profiles.
- You should always keep in mind that most of your actions online are public. Your posts and comments will probably be visible to your kid’s friends, so try to avoid situations, which may make your child feel embarrassed because of your actions.
- Send private messages rather post and comment every time on the kid’s wall. It is far less likely to upset or embarrass a child with the words sent to the private inbox that nobody else can see. Every time you feel like you may cross the public boundary – send a private message.
- Whenever you want to like or comment some of your child’s posts, wait until their friends do that first. It’s a community of your kid and his/her peers. Children may feel awkward if you are the first to react to all of their posts. To some, it even may feel like stalking. Not to be mistaken, you’d better only “like” the posts, but not comment or tag.
- Don’t send friendship requests to your child’s friends. Most likely, it will feel awkward both for them and for your kid. However, if those friends are the ones to befriend or follow you, don’t reject them.
- Never admonish or scold your children in the online posts, it may feel like their worst nightmare and leads to nothing but conflicts and quarrels at home.
- Don’t take online friendship with your kid for granted. It’s a privilege, not your right. Not all children want to expose that small world of their own to parents. Don’t abuse their trust, be wary of what you ask and discuss, don’t give them feel being stalked.
- And finally, enjoy the benefits of talking offline and encourage your kid to spend more time with the family instead of hanging on the social networks. Especially if you have something important to say or ask – a real life talk is always a better idea.
Ask if your child would feel comfortable with your presence in their online life. Don’t force them into an online friendship. Avoid social media stalking; if you don’t like their activity on social media, have an open discussion about it but don’t slide into conflicts. Children can simply unfriend you or adjust their privacy settings the way to prevent you from seeing their updates.
Remember that you don’t necessarily need to be online friends with your children to keep an eye on their Internet activity. Trusted apps for parents to monitor social media will always help you stay aware of what your kid is up to, without abusing their privacy.
Are you friends with your kids on social networks? Do you have more rules to add to the list? Write them in comments!