Parents have a greater responsibility when posting to any social media website than the average user. They need to become familiar with and understand the inner workings of each site that their children use, monitoring what their children post and providing a positive example for their children to follow.
Your children probably know more about social media than you ever will just as Generation X knows more about computers than the Baby Boomers. Becoming involved and monitoring what they are doing and who they are connected with is just the beginning in making sure your children become responsible in their content. Their social media pages can be monitored by anyone including school administration, prospective colleges and the job market. Even if data is private, social media outlets can change their complex, opaque privacy policies to expose content. Everything your child posts is subject to scrutiny now and for years to come.
Social media should be an environment where people can freely express their thoughts and beliefs, however with easy access and screen shots making everything potentially permanent poor judgment can come back to haunt anyone, especially a parent. Trying to justify to your children why your face is shoved into the cleavage of a bachelor party stripper with a shot in hand is a conversation any parent would like to avoid.
The first step to protecting yourself from future awkward conversations with your children is to limit the pictures uploaded and comments made to any website. All pictures should be appropriate for everyone, which is admittedly hard to do, so your best bet is to wait a day or two before you post them. Pictures that are hilarious in the moment are best left stored to your computer where they cannot be taken out of context. Consider the guidelines and only post those pictures you would frame and hang in your living room.
Posts of a questionable nature are also a bad idea. It may be funny now to discuss your dysfunctional relationship with 300 of your closest friends, but your children don’t want to know about your sex life and you are teaching them it is okay to give details of their own.
When in doubt if a picture or post is appropriate or not just don’t do it. This should include embarrassing posts and pictures of your children as well. Don’t make them regret being connected to you. Some of the more unflattering parental Facebook posts can be viewed on happyplace.com.
The connections you make are just as important as the things you post. Your children will be curious about what you do and inevitably will check things out. Getting a discount at the local bar because you follow their page is great, but should your children be able to see wet t-shirt night pictures in their news feed? Liking a big breast photograph is also a bad idea when you have children, unless you want to teach them to do the same.
Facebook has list options for keeping children in a segregated group but the content is still available. Blocking can be difficult to figure out and the content isn’t very secure. Common friends can lead your children to your hidden content and expose them to behavior you wish they would never see. Other options are to make your profile private only visible to friends and limit the number of friends you do accept, but your friends privacy settings could allow for others to see your blocked content.
The best option for parents is to maintain an Amish-like exterior on all social media websites. Your friends may not be as cautious as you are on the content they post. It is important to talk to them and make sure they know guidelines and follow them. In turn, respect other parents’ wishes and guidelines as well. Following a few basic rules can help insure your children will be responsible social media users.