Friday, February 27, 2009

To Friend or not to Friend Your Child?

Let me be honest -- I have no children. I only have memories of what my life was like as a teenager. Now that my disclaimer is out of the way...

With the emergence of Facebook as "the" social networking site for both youth and older adults, the arbitrary division between the world of young people (formerly MySpace or the internet in general) and their parents (formerly the tangible earth or AOL) is narrowing. We are witnessing the winnowing away of a different sort of digital divide. So what does this mean? It means that there are times where I notice my friends (the adult kind) are friends with their children on Facebook. Not friends as in "I am here watching you -- be careful!" but friends as in "hey, let's watch a movie tonight."

I find this a little odd. Probably because I never had that sort of relationship with my parents, so it's hard for me to understand how someone could small talk and just sort of hang out with theirs. But, from the couple of examples I see online, it seems to be working. But what do I know? I am not friends with that teenager's friends and I don't really see what else is going on on the walls of Facebook...

Which brings me to this blog on Plugged in Parent entitled Parental faux pas on Facebook. When I first read it, with its basic rules for parents on Facebook, I thought to myself, duh! What parent wouldn't know not to avoid friending their friends (that's just weird)? Don't parents know not to comment on everything their child writes in their status update (that's annoying)?

Then I realized that parents might NOT know those things. Why? Because they might not realize the basic nettiquette of Facebook and online interactions in general! I was lucky enough to become part of the online social scene relatively early (was on Friendster in the 90s, was IM'ing back then too with up to 10 windows open at once), so I need to remember that not everyone who is "old" like me understands the not-so-basic rules of the online world. They will become intuitive enough, but right now they are like those bizarre exceptions to the spelling rules you learned in grade school "i before e except after c..."

So thank you Plugged in Parent Sharon Miller Cindrich for sharing some of the basic rules so we can all live happily under the same URL.


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