When should I unfriend my kid’s Facebook friends?

Question: My teenage daughter recently broke off a friendship with a group of girls, some of whom I’m connected to on Facebook. Should I remove the girls from my Facebook friend list?

Answer: Friendship can be tricky. Add hormones and adolescence to the mix, along with online communication, and things get complicated.

The sense of anonymity associated with online communication can make it tempting to get involved in your child’s friendship quibbles, especially when your child is hurt, angry or frustrated. Staying out of the fray can be difficult; however, you often can help your child most by providing support and guidance offline.

While you may be furious and feel protective, avoid a knee-jerk reaction. Try to get a clear picture of the situation before making judgments.

Next, keep your emotions and opinions about the argument offline. Be cautious when posting something that may be interpreted as a reference to the quarrel between your daughter and her friends, or put her in vulnerable position with her social group.

If the friendship does not resolve, follow these tips.

  1. Take her lead. Talk to your daughter before making a change to your Facebook connections that include her friends.
  2. Adjust settings. Revisit the privacy settings on your Facebook page and decide the best way to manage the information you get from your daughter’s friends, as well as the access they have to your information.
  3. Hide your posts. Without unfriending, you can hide your posts from individual friends on your list by putting them on a restricted list.
  4. Avoid tags. Even if you put the friend on a restricted list, they can view posts when they are tagged.
  5. If you decide to unfriend … Especially if your daughter was a victim of bullying, choosing to remove her friends from your social network can be the right choice.
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