Wondering what your tween is up to on Facebook? Check our etiquette guide to befriending your child on social-networking websites
If your kids spend more time on social-media sites than going to school, you’re not alone: A recent StatsCan report says 98 percent of older teens are online, and Facebook and Twitter are among the net’s most-visited sites. (You probably have your own accounts set up too.) The huge popularity of the sites and the amount of time your kid spends surfing and chatting raises questions: Should you follow and friend your tween? How do you monitor your kids on social-networking sites? We found five tips for doing it right.
Don’t think you have to be friends If your child is under 13, friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and absolutely monitor what they’re doing online. If you have a teen who refuses your friend request, don’t worry, says Judy Arnall, a Calgary-based parenting expert and author of soon-to-be-released Plugged-In Parenting. “After 13 they want to individuate from their parents. They want their door closed and they don’t want you in their Facebook circle. They want their privacy and that’s OK—it’s part of that stage.”
Shut up and lurk Nothing’s as public as the Internet, and to tweens and teens, that means one thing: they don’t want to be seen with mom and dad. Some parents try to be too much of a pal, posting comments on their child’s wall and joining in on conversations, says Louise Fox, an etiquette expert in Toronto. “But that’s too public and embarrassing.” Arnall agrees, suggesting you stay mum. “It’s like when you’re carpooling and the kids are talking and you just listen and pick up on what’s going on,” she says. “Don’t be an active participant and hopefully they’ll forget you’re there.”