Thing 1

Friend Requesting Your Kids

DSC_0271The Juggle at the Wall Street Journal has a good article up about Technology/Social Networking and Parenting. Following Your Kids on Facebook: Tech-Enabled Bonding or Helicopter Parenting? It’s a good discussion to have with yourself and your kids, but I don’t believe there’s any black and white answer to it all.

It has taken LilZ and I four years to reach a good place in our relationship with each other and the internet. We had some big downs several years ago that probably had me erring on the side of Helicopter Parenting, but for Junior High kids? I think that’s necessary. They don’t necessarily have the maturity yet to understand a lot of the rules and why they are there and important…yet they are prime targets for scum. The are also too trusting and often over confident in their decision making. Things were rough back then…and I will say this for sure: Children are not old enough for their own computer in their room until they are in at least 8th grade. For me? That’s the only black and white. My lesson learned.

Now that we’re in High School and have worked out a lot of the kinks in the way we handle social internet use, I feel much better.

For me…right now (this can always change)…I let LilZ invite me to participate on social networking sites. He initiates the contact. He knows I’m already out there on facebook and twitter and he was the one to friend request me. So, when he does? I don’t hover. I don’t check his status every day. I don’t read every tweet. (Although I’d like to, he’s quite funny.) I don’t analyze his friend list on MySpace and wonder who they each are. However…he knows that I can. And he knows that I will if I ever feel like he’s doing anything dangerous or risky online. Privacy…right now…for us…is a privilege. And these networks provide great tools for us to bond over. He responds to my tweets and I send him links on facebook. He comments on my blog and I favorite his flickr pictures. I really feel like the internet is a positive thing in our lives, but it could easily be abused by me. I could very easily use it to stalk my child, and often the temptation is strong. I don’t feel it’s necessary right now. We’ve come a long way to reach this point…but we’re here and we have a comfortable understanding.

There is nothing easy about parenting and I often have to remind myself that I got into plenty of trouble and did plenty of stupid things as a teenager: WITHOUT THE INTERNET. I refuse to blame social networking for anything…I remember my own teenage years too well to be that naive. The internet can be a tool to communicate with your child on THEIR terms in THEIR language. I can’t give that perk up…I’m holding onto anything I can at this point. But I won’t abuse it. At least not until I feel like I need to.

So…it’s a fragile tight rope we walk in our home. And the course changes constantly. But we remain flexible and talk it out. That’s the biggest thing. If I get concerned about something…I talk to LilZ about it first. Instead of banning him from the internet all together, I try to talk to him like the adult I want him to be.

And then I poke him on facebook.

12 thoughts on “Friend Requesting Your Kids”

  1. I too have a high school freshman son born on January 21st — I could have written this entry myself. But it wouldn’t have been as beautifully expressed! Can I also say that I’m far more concerned for when my daughter is old enough for the same issues to arise? She is going to be SO MUCH more trouble! She’s almost 10 so I’ll have to wade through that on my own without your help with your NikkiZ experience!

  2. my mom is a friend of mine on facebook and I wish I could unaccept her, lol. I think you have a good balance going on that allows trust for both of you.

  3. That sounds like exactly the type of relationship I want to have with my daughters one day. Now if only their dad felt the same way!! He’s a police officer and sees a lot of the bad out there, so I have a feeling I’m going to have to be the voice of reason in our house when the girls hit puberty.

  4. I think it’s great you guys have that understanding about your relationship and social networking sites online.

    My mom just joined Facebook (no friend request yet) but my brother was in such a panic that he called me AT WORK and told me to clean up my Wall. Sounds like they haven’t had “the talk” yet.

  5. Sounds like you are doing the right thing(s) for your family! You and Lil Z are so lucky to have such a good relationship and open dialogue.

    I am thankful that I don’t have to worry about such things – while I do have two young teen step daughters, they have two parents and don’t appreciate a third. Unfortunately, I see plenty on their pages that I find age-inappropriate (the provocative poses, the lying about their ages to appear older), but all I can do is point it out to their dad and hope it sinks in.

  6. My mom and stepdad are both my friends on facebook. I’m also friends with some of thier friends on facebook. The only thing I changed on my page was deleting the link to my blog and twitter on it because while I don’t mind them being friends on there I still like having my little internet space.

  7. you are completely admirable. my mom was blog stalking me while i was in college, multiple times after i had asked her NOT to read my blog. she’d agree and then keep reading it anyway. i’d change my URL and she’d find the new one. i finally had to concede that my mom was reading and adjust accordingly but at 18 and 19 years old, i just wanted a place to vent without having my mom judge me or lecture me when she came to visit ON MY BIRTHDAY…

    things have worked out and i’m facebook friends with my ENTIRE FAMILY, my blog is easily accessible and appropriate for all of them, but at that time? not so much.

    anyway, i’m just saying. i like your style. lilz will appreciate it so much when he looks back on the way you handled things.

  8. I knew it was over for facebook the day my father very seriously told me “So, I have a facepage now…”

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