If you have a child of a literate age with computer access, chances are they have a Facebook profile. They also probably don’t want you looking at it. Here are at least 10 reasons why you shouldn’t:
Kids dominate popular culture these days, and that means social media, too. Being a responsible parent naturally means being aware of what your children are up to, and there’s no simpler way of doing that than checking out their latest Facebook status update or tweet. It’s like an online diary, open to the public — depending on their privacy settings.
But just like kids back in the day never wanted their parents going through their drawers and closets, they don’t want them poking around their personal Web domains, either. It’s a matter of mutual respect — and restraint.
Here are 10 reasons to limit conversations with your kids to the real world and avoid the temptations of interactive cyberspace:
- Your child’s posts will annoy you. If you think your kid whines a lot in your physical presence about absolutely nothing, wait till you get a load of their online rants when they think they’re “alone” with their friends!
- Your comments will annoy them. Anyone who posts on Facebook is probably inviting feedback, positive or negative, and nothing is uglier than a “flame war” between a parent and their child. That’s as bad as witnessing a domestic dispute in the local supermarket. Also, you’ll be engaging in arguments you can’t win (mainly because you’re probably uninformed about their “trendy” topics). And unlike at home, they can always just delete your comments — or even block you.
- They’ll embarrass you. There are some things about your loved ones you’re better off not knowing, at least consciously, including their tastes in music, politics and the opposite (or same) sex. The fact that they’re shamelessly broadcasting their dubious opinions, love of morning sex and hatred of all people “judging me and shit” will only succeed in making you cringe.
- You’ll embarrass them. With pretty much everything you have to say. It’s called “the generation gap.”
- You’ll embarrass yourself. You’ll basically be revealing to the world how sadly insecure you are by publicly imposing yourself into your child’s inner circle, where you simply do not belong. You’re just too old to play in this game. And it could come off as “creepy” to your child, their peers, your peers and outsiders.
- Privacy is an important boundary. Teaching your kids to respect the privacy of others naturally is a lesson best learned by example.
- Trust counts, too. If your kids feel like you’re snooping on them all the time, the impression they’ll get is that you don’t think they can take care of themselves, or they’re up to no good. This may lead to unwarranted tension while sending the wrong message.
- Pick your fights wisely — and discreetly. Online bickering consumes a surprising amount of online conversations. There’s no need to fight in public. The dinner table is your best battlefield when it comes to resolving family conflicts. You may also find yourself inadvertently involved in defensive disputes with your child’s peers that can lead to unfortunate and even tragic consequences. The sad “cyber-bullying” case of Jessi Slaughter is an infamous example (read it and then back away from your kid’s next online fight).
- You don’t need the extra distraction. Social media can be addictive. Just ask your kids. If you throw in cyber-surveillance along with all of your actually necessary duties as a parent, you won’t get anything substantial done, at work or at home.
- Setting a bad precedent for the grandparents. Every generation likes to think they’re smarter than their parents. When it comes to grandparents, that’s twice the cynicism. Kids often believe older folks simply have no idea what they’re talking about, especially in regards to pop culture and technology. Best to not even go there. Better if you don’t even know the way!
Everyone needs their own space sometimes, and the only way to maintain this is to identify the boundaries — and then respect those borders to avoid “turf wars.” You’re not hanging out with your little darling at the movies or at the mall with his friends, right? Don’t hang around him/her virtually, either. Back off, pops!
Readers: After considering these potential pitfalls, do you still feel the need to be your child’s Facebook friend? Tell us all about it so we may judge you.
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