K. Jason and Kelli Krafsky

#1) Be active on Facebook: You may not want to be, but for your kids’ sake, you need to be on Facebook. In fact, it is the best way to see what they’re into, who their friends are and what they’re really like when you’re not around. Believe us, kids “forget” that others can see what they post. We know some of our friends’ kids better than their parents because we see what they’re Facebooking about…and the parents would be shocked!

#2) Don’t parent kids on Facebook: You have the home court advantage to know what your teen should and should not be doing. Any real-time issues like chores, homework, grades, work, home-life problems need to be dealt with face-to-face rather than on Facebook. If they say or do something on Facebook that brings out the parent in you, remember to “talk, don’t type.”

#3) Give kids their space: There are whole websites devoted to the embarrassing posts and comments parents leave on their kids’ Facebook. Don’t humiliate your teen by posting baby pictures or updates that give their real-life and online friends plenty of teasing ammunition. It’s OK to engage with your kid from time-to-time on Facebook, but ultimately, your kids are not on it to spend more time with you.

#4) Set a Facebook curfew: Kids need boundaries, especially when there is a 24/7/365 party going on on Facebook. With Facebook access on computers, phones and play systems, it is way too easy for teenagers to lose sight of the amount of real time they’re spending in the online community. Set a time limit for their combined time on Facebook each day. Set a curfew for when their Facebook time starts and ends. And be sure to explain when it is not acceptable to be on Facebook (e.g. during meals, church, school, etc).

#5) Spot check their Wall, Friends, Likes and Inbox: As their parent, you need to know who your kid is interacting with, what Pages and Games they’re associated with, and what they’re doing on Facebook. Some of this you can do as a Facebook Friend, but periodically, you’ll want to log on to their profile, scroll through their News Feed and check the messages in their Inbox.  When you’re in their account, don’t post anything, erase anything, or pose like you’re them. If possible, do it with them in the room. That way if the chat box comes up, they can quickly deal with the real-time interruption. Spot checking their account adds a layer of accountability and gives you another vantage point into their world.

#6) Parents have the final say: Things on Facebook aren’t always what they seem. A simple “Like” of a funny statement can give outsiders full access to your child’s Facebook account. A Facebook Page for a popular show can put your kid just one click away from some pretty raunchy stuff. All that to say, parents need to be proactive and if you say a Friend needs to be blocked, a Page unliked, or a password changed…then so be it. Tell them your reasoning and make them take the action step. Sometimes parenting is about doing what’s right rather than what’s popular with your teenager.

#7) Talk offline about online experiences: Make a point oft bringing up Facebook-related topics with your kid. Whether it’s a new feature or layout change by Facebook, or about a shared Facebook Friend’s recent update, or how they’re advancing in a Facebook game…the more you talk offline about what is happening online, the better the chances are that they’ll turn to you when something happens online that made them uncomfortable or feel threatened. If it’s natural for parents and kids to talk face-to-face about Facebook, it makes it that much easier when they might really need your help with something that’s happening with someone on Facebook.

 

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