Can Facebook Help Children Of Divorce?

It remains to be seen whether Facebook is the proper avenue for children of divorce to stay in touch with their noncustodial parents.

Can children of divorced parents keep both of them equally involved in their lives through Facebook?

Perhaps the headline of The New York Times article “Virtual Visitation Rights” answers that question by suggesting that perhaps noncustodial parents might benefit most from maintaining relationships via Facebook.

Facebook can add some much needed informality to a dynamic that is otherwise always based on scheduling appointments and visitation activities. Like Dr. Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins, told the Times:

Before this electronic media, noncustodial parents had very formalized, appointment-driven communication with their kids… Electronic media may help noncustodial parents by informalizing the process of communicating with their children. They become less dependent on schedules and therefore more consistent with an easy, informal flow of information, which may be what teenagers like.

That assumes the child remains friends with the parents on Facebook. As they grow into their teenage years, the kids become increasingly likely to get annoyed with their folks and find reasons to unfriend them on the social network.

Unless the child in question knows how to make thorough use of the privacy settings on Facebook, a noncustodial parent might learn more about the kid via the social network than otherwise might be the case — and if the adult oversteps boundaries in response to any inadvertent “overconfiding” by their progeny, that could result in a defriending.

We’ve previously seen statistics to the effect that only 35 percent of teenagers whose folks are on Facebook maintain them as friends, so that would suggest that perhaps one third of noncustodial parents have a chance at remaining pals with their kids on the site.

Readers, what do you think about Facebook as an alternative or supplement to visitation rights?