Q: My son didn’t object to adding me as a Facebook friend, but every time I post something on his wall, he gets mad. What’s going on?
A: Being connected to your child’s social network is a good idea. It allows you to supervise his behavior early on and it might even give you the inside scoop on relationships with friends.
But being connected doesn’t always mean being involved. A connection to his online social world is very valuable-in the same way it might be valuable for you to chaperone a trip to the movies with his friends. But just like you might sit in the back of the movie theater during the show, you’ll want to remain in the background as your child forges his own path and finds his own identity online.
Confusing? It can be. Parents who spend a lot of time involved in their child’s activities might find the annoyance baffling. But take their cue to preserve your spot on the friends list and follow these simple tips to stay connected.
- Don’t overcomment. It might be tempting to comment on your child’s funny photo or goofy status, but refrain from making a statement. Save your comments for the most important and public of posts-a simple ™Congrats!∫ on a sports victory, for instance, is appropriate, but avoid being mushy. Do ™Like∫ stuff. A simple thumbs up is a sign that you’re connected. But don’t overdo that, either.
- Don’t scold online. When you see negative comments, profanity or an inappropriate photo, do not post on his wall where that cute girl from biology class can see your reprimands. Offline, talk about what you see posted, set boundaries and make sure to reinforce the staying power of careless online posts.
- Don’t post embarrassing photos. Remember, everything you post on your own timeline might pop up on his. Keep this in mind when posting photos from the latest Bunko night with the ladies or before you post a candid shot of him potty-training. Tag with permission. If you have a great family photo from the holidays, ask him if you can tag him. Asking permission is a great habit to get into and will remind him that you respect his privacy and feelings.
- Don’t send friend requests to his friends. Be careful about sending out friend requests to your son’s friends. They may feel awkward and pressured to accept or reject you. But you can accept friend requests from your son’s close friends if you feel comfortable allowing that friend to see everything you post online.