George and Jane Jetson made it look so easy.
The 21st Century family was supposed to act and function like the 20th Century family (but with all the cool gadgets and flying saucers). The parents still did their adult-like activities and Judy and Elroy did their youthful-like things. But even the creative minds at Hanna-Barbera never dreamed that futuristic parents and kids would unite with identical technological cravings to spend their time in the same space in the new millennium. Their cartoon fantasies of the future never envisioned Facebook.
When it comes to social networks, it used to be that kids had MySpace and parents had, well nothing really. But now, whole families are participating in the same online social communities at the same time. Too much is at stake to allow the kids to be on Facebook and hope for the best. What happens on Facebook can and will find itself being a major story plot in the family drama at home. And if that isn’t bad enough, your kid’s Facebook can and will likely be checked by prospective colleges and employers too.
This is why it is imperative for parents and kids to talk about some common ground rules while participating in the new favorite American (online) pastime called Facebook. Good parenting is part trust, part rule maker, and part rule enforcer. As parents, not only do we need to figure out what rules need to be made between the child and parent, but between the siblings as well. As we recently welcomed our two teenaged kids onto Facebook, we set some ground rules for them…and for us.
Here’s 6 Tips for Parents and Kids to Coexist on Facebook
#1) Parents must have the password: The password is the key to unlock the door for full access into your child’s Facebook profile. It must be shared with the parents. And only with the parents! This is essential for accountability and building trust in the relationship as it allows parents to spot check the News Feed and Inbox from time to time. If the password must be changed (and we recommend changing it every 60-90 days for security reasons), parents must know what it is immediately. To us, this is a non-negotiable for kids being on Facebook.
#2) Parents must be full access Friends: Facebook has created a number of ways to help Facebookers protect themselves such as setting up Friend Lists, limiting what certain people can access and hiding certain parts of their profile from view. But when it comes to parents and their kids, not only must the parents and kids be Facebook Friends, but the parents must be able to view as much as possible- all pictures, videos, posts, updates, tags…everything. This creates a check-and-balance and keeps the surprises to a minimum.
#3) Kids are fully responsible for their Facebook: While kids can’t be responsible for the dumb things their Facebook Friends post on their Wall and News Feed, your kids must be responsible for anything posted from their own profile. If they leave a public place and kept their Facebook logged on and somebody posts something acting like your kid (regardless if it’s inappropriate or not), your kid is responsible for it. If they allow a friend to use their Facebook profile to send messages out to people, your kid is responsible for it. Once something is posted, it can never be permanently removed. Hopefully this helps them think twice (or a third or fourth time) about allowing someone else to borrow their identity for a little while.
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