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Social Media

How much do you know about popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?

Social networking sites and virtual worlds provide convenient spaces platforms for your children to mingle and network. It is also a space that can put them in vulnerable positions if they are not careful. As you try to ‘connect’ with your kids on these platforms, learn what some of the Dos and Don’ts are and how you can raise responsible digital citizens.

‘Friends’ on Facebook: Dos and Don’ts

Being ‘friends’ with your teenagers on Facebook does not necessarily give you the right to do anything and everything you want on it. Remember that Facebook is public and anyone on the internet, including your teenagers’ friends, can see everything displayed on your children’s profiles as well as yours.

So, here are some DOs and DON’Ts that you should abide by if you have added your teenagers as ‘Friends’ on Facebook.

DO monitor what your teenage children upload onto Facebook
As much as they think they know everything, many teenagers may not be aware of the dangers of posting too much information onto social networking sites. Photographs, personal particulars, status updates or even comments can potentially put them in vulnerable positions. In situations where you see that happening, let them know your concerns.

DON’T use Facebook as a platform for parenting
While it is important to voice your concerns about what they post online, you should never use Facebook to parent your teenagers about it or about anything else in general. Teenagers are self-conscious. Their profiles can be viewed by their Facebook Friends, and hence parenting them on the social website may invite teasing that can hurt their self-esteem. Be sensitive.

DO use Facebook to document about family
As we become increasingly busier with work and school, it is easy for anyone of us to forget about our family relationships, traditions and moments. Therefore, Facebook serves as a good platform that allows you and your children to easily keep track and remind one another of all these precious family memories as you post such updates.

DON’T upload embarrassing photographs of your teenagers on Facebook
Yes, Facebook is a great place for you to post and share your family photographs. While you may find some of the photographs funny and adorable, your teenagers may think otherwise. For example, a picture of your teenagers being potty trained more than a decade ago is probably something they never want their peers to see because it is just too embarrassing for them! If you really wish to upload them, respect your teenagers and ask for permission first.

DO be mindful of your own Facebook activities
Facebook activities refer to anything and everything you do on the site including posting, sharing, liking, so on and so forth. When you’re on your teenagers’ Friends lists, they will be able to see whatever you do on the site. For example, posting vulgarities on your status updates or liking pages that are only suitable for adults (e.g. fan page for an online gambling site or adult magazine) are not things that you want your teenagers to be exposed to.

DON’T make your teenagers’ Facebook Friends your Facebook Friends
If you are going around adding your teenagers’ friends, it’s likely that you’re just trying to keep watch of their social circles. This is probably overstepping into your teenagers’ boundaries and it may just make you look like a weird, creepy and overly domineering parent – not just in the eyes of your teenagers, but also that of their friends. Don’t add them as friends unless you know them well and have checked with your teenagers.

DO use Facebook as one of the platforms for family bonding
Since your teenagers are probably spending most of their time on Facebook, why not turn it into an opportunity for yourselves to do some family bonding with them? You and your teenagers can interact over friendly competitions via numerous Facebook games. This will also give both of you some common topics to talk about.

DON’T stalk your teenagers on Facebook
Monitoring your teenagers on Facebook is fine, but don’t stalk them and try to scrutinise and make them correct every single thing that does not please you. There will definitely be times when you feel uncomfortable with what you see, but give your teenagers space to grow and learn, and make their own decisions. Intervene only in situations where you believe that they are going down dangerous paths.

In conclusion, remember that while the teenagers may not unfriend you, they can move on to another social media platform to avoid you. Therefore, exercise caution and discretion while interacting with your teenagers on Facebook and always remember the principle of mutual respect and to build parent-child relationship offline as well!

Article contributed by TOUCH Cyber Wellness