Your son or daughter has finally accepted your friend request. Now what? Here are eight tips to make the most of the relationship -- without irritating your offspring.
1) Be exclusive with your likes and comments
Minimizing the likes and comments on your kid's page will make the occasional "like" feel much more special to your son or daughter. Save your likes for those really cute profile pictures instead of liking every picture that any of their friends post ever. By reducing likes, your kids won't think you are constantly lurking on their page even if you are. Stealth is definitely the name of the game when it comes to Facebook stalking. Ask your children. They know.
2) Refrain from posting on your son or daughter's wall
As much as your son or daughter probably appreciates nice memos from you, they definitely appreciate them much more in their email inbox -- and not on their wall. Hundreds of their Facebook friends can see posts on their wall so your kids probably want to save that space for interesting links and cool posts from friends as well as photographs and videos. If you choose to post on their wall, you also run the risk of embarrassing your kids in a public forum. Inboxes are private and more personal -- a much more appropriate medium for communicating with your kids.
3) Do not call your kids at work, school or college to question every single like, share or post they ever make
Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to your kids' likes and comments. Kids often like dozens of posts or more on a daily basis. Just because they like a page for the Ultra Music Festival in Miami doesn't mean they are currently headed to said music festival in Miami or suddenly obsessed with popping ecstasy at music festivals.
4) Do not friend every single one of their friends, friends' friends and friends' friends' friends
However, definitely friend their best friends that grew up swinging by your house or their best friend from college that you take out for a nice meal every time you visit your kids at college. Their close friends might be pleasantly surprised to open their Facebook page and find a friend request from their good friend's parent -- most of their other friends will be confused.
5) Do NOT friend their teachers, professors, bosses or colleagues
This is a major infringement on your kid's privacy. Just because you know all about their professors' lectures does not mean their professors necessarily know you. A Facebook page is not a fanpage, and friend requests should only be sent to those in the friend category -- nothing too shocking about that.
6) There is no need to call your college-aged kids out on all party pictures
Pictures of your kid holding a cheap beer or a redcup are perfectly acceptable. We've all been to college and most of us left our dorm rooms on occasion while we were there. However, if your son posts a picture of himself holding a bong that he just touched down or your daughter posts a bikini picture of herself chugging Captain Morgan on a yacht during Spring Break, it might be time for a serious conversation on appropriate internet behavior. Kids sometimes forget that deleting particularly vile Facebook pictures doesn't mean the images go away forever.
7) Stop yourself from flipping through your kid's inbox if they make the mistake of leaving their Facebook page open
Just because you are burning with curiosity to read all of your kid's personal messages does not mean you should open up your daughter's inbox and read every single message ever sent from her inbox. This is a big, blaring no-no and a huge violation of her privacy, the equivalent of reading your kid's diary. Journals and inboxes alike are just not fair game. If you have questions about your children's life, communicate those questions directly as opposed to just sneaking through his or her personal messages.
8) A Facebook page is not cause for concern
Ninety-four percent of American teens have a Facebook page. If used appropriately, Facebook can be a tremendous asset to your kid's social and professional life. Facebook can strengthen connections between your kids and their friends as well as help them retain connections when they move away to college or beyond. In addition, Facebook can put to good use as a great tool for parents to communicate with their children. Kids check Facebook numerous times per day, so sending your kids an instant message on Facebook might be the best way to get a fast response.