My mother isn’t on Facebook because my younger sister won’t let her get one. In fact, my sister promised that she would stop talking to our mother completely if she (our mother) ever tried to ‘friend’ her. Although my family is an amusingly extreme example, I often hear Facebook etiquette horror stories from my friends, and have experienced my share of adults being uncomfortably obtrusive Online.
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It’s a Public Space
You’re probably thinking, “Youth today just don’t understand that social media is a public space. If you didn’t put embarrassing photos of yourself up, then there wouldn’t be problem.” To a point you are right — young people do often post embarrassing (potentially drunken) pictures of themselves online and they shouldn’t. However, for the most part, people seem to have an intuitive grasp of what is — and is not — acceptable social media interaction, at least with each other, that adults simply lack. Therefore, allow me (as a member of the “under 30″ generation) to give you some basic pointers that the youth in your life will thank you for.
- Practice Restraint: For some reason many adults (including my grandmother) seem to think it’s acceptable to go through your page and “like” or comment on everything. So, let me just tell you, that’s not OK. It’s fine to congratulate someone for an accomplishment, but try to reel in your enthusiasm.
- Know Who You’re Talking To: Under no circumstances should you like or comment on a wall post of one of your child’s friends if you do not have a personal relationship with the post’s originator. If you know them it’s probably fine, but one of the most common online manners breach is, “your mom (grandma) ‘liked’ my wall post and we’ve never spoken… It was very awkward!”
- Only Offer Encouragement: It’s also never a good idea to rebuke your child on Facebook. Remember, this is a public space. You wouldn’t yell at your child (or young adult) in the middle of a crowded mall so don’t do it in front of their 300 closest friends! For example, my cousin likes to play casino games online. When he posted about his winnings (clearly happy about them) his dad made a detracting comment, creating an unnecessarily hostile situation.
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Communication Is Key
This may sound obvious but: talk to your child! find out what embarrasses them (or their friends) and then don’t do it! Most kids understand that all you want is to connect with them, keep up with their news when they leave the house, and to simply be a part of their lives. So, communicate and follow the rules your child gives you so that you don’t get banned!