Christine Park

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

To Friend or Not to Friend

When did "friend" also become a verb? When Facebook took over the world, that's when.

My Facebook friend (used here as a noun) Tracy Correa just wrote a great article in the Fresno Bee called "Teen Crisis: Should they friend parents on Facebook?" Thankfully, my children are only 4 and 2, and hence, too young to be on Facebook. (Although I wouldn't put it past my 4-year-old daughter, who is 4 going on 14!)

But plenty of parents are or will be facing this issue before they know it. When that time comes, I, for one, would like to think that my daughter would be among the 16% in a recent Kaplan survey that said parental friending "was a condition of parental approval for starting a Facebook page." Yet the same survey also says 40% of the teenagers surveyed simply ignored their parents' friend requests! How is that even acceptable? The kids complain of having to censor themselves because their parents are able to monitor their posts. Well I say, "GOOD." Maybe that might make you might think twice before posting risque pictures and profanity, or evidence of illegal activity, or becoming an online bully.

Kids need a private space, I get that. I promise, as God is my witness, to try very hard not to read my daughter's diary, if she were to ever have one. The thing is, THE INTERNET IS NOT PRIVATE. Let me say that in all caps and bold again: A FACEBOOK PAGE IS NOT YOUR PRIVATE SPACE. Depending on your privacy settings, all it takes is a friend of a friend to view your posts or your page, and that could lead to trouble.

What kids (and some adults) have a hard time realizing (until it's too late), is that Facebook posts have real life consequences. Did you hear about that 22-year-old waitress who lost her job because she vented about a customer in her Facebook post? Or how about that Illinois high school student who could be expelled for ranking his female classmates on his Facebook page? The list of cautionary tales could go on forever.

Bottom line: parents need to be monitoring their children's pages. Not as a friend, but as their parent.

But there are rules for parents too. This may be the best part of Tracy's article. Facebook etiquette for parents who are friends with their teens... ROTFL! oops. sorry. so uncool.

-- Don't post embarrassing comments on your child's page -- better yet, refrain from commenting.

-- Don't share embarrassing photos that you think are adorable but your child most likely does not, and refrain from "liking" said photos.

-- Don't "tag" your child in photos (which then automatically shoot directly to his/her page) unless you ask permission first.

-- Don't send friend requests to all of your child's friends -- people you mooched from his/her friends list.

-- Don't post reminders on your child's wall such as, "Don't forget to wear your retainer."

-- Don't make critical comments about the appearance of their friends in photos (i.e. that girl is showing a little too much cleavage).

-- Don't try to be cool by using terms like LOL, BTW, LMAO and the like -- especially if you have no idea what they mean.

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