This edition of ‘Thoughts From Teens’ was written by our friend Erik. He is a senior in high school and wants to share some tips for using Facebook that would make teen life easier:
Hello old[er than me] people!
“Would love to come but I have a dr. appt. at 4:00”
My 70 year old grandmother posted that message on the wall of a public event for one of my soccer games. That means that anybody who is invited to this event can now see that my grandma has a doctor’s appointment at 4 o’clock——-how embarrassing! I have been getting a ton of flack for this from my friends so I decided to make a rule book for the older Facebook users. I am not calling all of you ’70 year old grandmothers’, but I figured with the sudden surge of moms and teachers on Facebook, they should at least learn some of the guidelines us kids have been living by for years. I have personally experienced all of these mistakes made by people in my family:
#1: Look where you’re posting
My grandma clearly did not follow this rule. Her post would have been fine if it were in a personal message to me, but when she is posting on a public wall like that, nobody cares whether she has a doctor’s appointment or not and it is just embarrassing for her and for me. I know it is hard for some to understand the difference between a comment, a wall post, a message, and a chat but really try to pay attention because you want to do all you can to avoid the awkward TMI situation like my Grandma had.
#2: Facebook is not your email
Just because you get email notifications about them, Facebook posts are not the same as email. This means that all the formal aspects of an email go out the window. You do not need to proof-read your Facebook posts, you do not need to start a wall post with “dear _____”, and you definitely do not have to sign your posts. There is nothing more awkward than when people sign their posts “Thanks, Jeff” when anybody reading the post can clearly see that Jeff is writing it.
#3: Facebook words do not mean what you think they mean
When somebody clicks the “like” button under your photo it is not the same as when somebody says they like your dress. There is no need to comment on the photo saying “thanks”. Also, when somebody is your “friend” on Facebook, they do not have to be your friends. It is totally ok to be Facebook friends with those awkward acquaintances from work or those kids you barely remember from high school. As far as we teenagers are concerned, the more the merrier. Friend them anyway, they could have something interesting to say. You are not obliged to talk to them, and if they get annoying you can just unfriend them or hide them from your newsfeed.
#4: Talk to your kids about your Facebook presence
I have told my parents straight-up that I do not want to be their friends on Facebook and they are fine with that. Other parents are fine members of the Facebook community and don’t cause problems. But there is always that one parent who is constantly commenting on her child’s photos and is a general nuisance. My advice is to talk to your children honestly, find out what kind of Facebook parent you are, and do what you can to make your kid’s high school life easier.
Do not feel bad if you have made some or all of these mistakes, all parents do. I just hope I can help ease your transition into the teen world of Facebook without making yourself look foolish, and while saving your teenager’s pride!
From Kris: I am friends with all my kids on Facebook (and Erik! 🙂 ). For our family, the rule was that my kids could not have a Facebook account unless I was their ‘friend’. Part of that was because they got Facebook accounts when they were younger, and I just wanted to make sure they weren’t ‘friending’ evil doers or anything. Now that my oldest is 17, I am willing to loosen the reins and he can unfriend me if he wants to. That just also may mean I will ‘uncook’ for him, ‘unclean’ for him, ‘undrive’ him places, and ‘unpay’ for some things. (ha ha)
Are you friends with your child on Facebook? Do you have some Facebook rules you would like to enact?