Friends with Your Child on Facebook? Maybe Not...
One of the ways parents can keep an eye on what their kids are up to
online is to join their social network. In Facebook parlance, this is
called “friending” them. If you can get them to accept you as a friend,
you can then see who their other friends are, make sure no
inappropriate photos or videos get posted, and generally get invaluable
insight into how your child thinks and acts when he or she is just
“hanging out” online.
Of course, online
friendships between parents and their children are still relatively
rare and can be difficult to establish once the child gets to
high-school age. It has a better chance of survival if the parent is
friended when the child’s social network account is first set-up and
the parent keeps a relatively low profile. Most teenage girls won’t
appreciate mom or dad posting cute photos from family vacations or
responding to a slightly racy wall post from a boy at school!
if you are one of the lucky parents to have made it on to your child’s
friend list, there are still some not-so-obvious barriers. Up to now,
anyone who has the patience to locate and adjust their privacy settings
has been able to customize those settings to exclude named individuals
from seeing certain information.
That’s right: if your child
properly tags photos and videos and then specifically names you in his
privacy settings, those pics and videos just won’t show up when you
look at his page. The same goes for basic and personal information. He
can even exclude you from seeing his friends list, although cutting you
out at that level would be very obvious!
And from recent Facebook announcements,
it appears that a user’s flexibility to adjust privacy settings is
about to get much better (or much worse, depending on your
point-of-view!) As well as making the settings simpler and more
accessible, Facebook plans to allow members to be more selective about
what they present to a range of friends and the outside world.
most members, this makes perfect sense and mirrors the situation in the
real world. You have very close friends, not-so-close friends, and a
bunch of people you haven’t seen since grade school. And then you have
family! It makes sense to treat each set of “friends” differently and
give each of them different access rights to your personal content
depending on how close they are.
So parents, even if you have
made it onto your child’s Facebook page don’t get too complacent. Like
in real life, you may only get to see what they want you to see!