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Parents on Facebook: How to Be a “Cool” Parent on Facebook

You’ve heard the saying, “Less is more.” If you’re a parent on Facebook, this saying applies to you. I’m a college student, and while my parents aren’t on Facebook, I know many relatives, neighbors and other adults who are. They use Facebook to varying degrees. Regardless of how often you use it, be aware of how your interactions affect your younger “friends.”

Parents And Social Media: A How-To

We may be Facebook “friends” now, but we are not actual friends. Please respect that distinction. As your kids, we don’t mind that you are on Facebook (though I can’t speak for all of us!) and some of us may tolerate you checking our wall, or asking about our online life, but there is definitely a line you should not cross. Remember you’re a parent first, not a friend.

There is a moment of panic when a teenager receives a friend request from an adult. I mean this in the nicest way possible, but I don’t want to be “friends” with every adult I’ve met. Kids prefer, if not crave, a certain level of separation from adults, and this separation is disappearing with adults “friending” teens on Facebook. Beware – if your friend request has been denied, don’t be insulted.

We understand that Facebook is far from private, but we post stuff for our peers, not you. Please give us some space. Don’t comment on everything (or anything). Commenting on a Facebook status is the equivalent of kissing us in front of our friends.  Send a private message to let us know what you’re thinking. Also, don’t ask us about our online activity in person. Don’t make Facebook a conversation starter.

These rules apply to our friends’ privacy as well. Don’t chastise our friends for profanity or poor grammar. And don’t friend our significant others; they don’t want to meet you on Facebook before they meet you in person.

Social Media For Parents

We try to watch what we post, and we’d like you to do the same. Don’t post things you don’t want us to know. We can both adjust our privacy settings. Also, we don’t always appreciate your politically charged statuses. To us, Facebook is for fun! We’re not looking for a lecture about the economy, politics or religion.

We hate it when you tell our friends embarrassing stories in person; its worse when you post them on Facebook. Remember, nothing ever goes away on the Internet. We don’t want to be followed by that embarrassing nickname or baby picture on the Internet forever. I’d be mortified if pictures of me with braces were on the Internet, I’d be mortified beyond belief. Some images should remain hidden in a photo album.

I have several friends whose parents completely cross the line on Facebook. These parents are well known (and disliked) for their excessive likes and comments on their kid’s friends’ walls. Don’t be this parent. You can be on Facebook and be aware of your child’s activities without being a Facebook “creep” (Facebook creep: a user who is overactive, and far too involved and will often talk about things they’ve seen on Facebook in real discussions). We want you to be an adult figure, not our “friend,” so don’t comment on things you aren’t a part of.

Obviously, the younger generations on Facebook have made some dumb mistakes and we appreciate your guidance. We don’t always remember the public nature of Facebook – feel free to remind us basic cyber safety information. Like you, we’re still learning how to make the most of this social media-driven world, where your every move can be documented online.

Rachel Musnicki is a University of Illinois Student, TrueCare Intern

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