When I first heard of Facebook, I couldn’t see the point. Watching my friends in the dorm, it seemed like the only useful function of Facebook was digitally stalking the attractive girls in their classes they didn’t have the guts to actually talk to. Actually, that’s still a pretty common function of Facebook.
When Facebook debuted, it was only for college students. A few years later, they added high school students, and then in a move that made all adolescents everywhere shudder collectively, Mr. Zuckerberg (Facebook’s founder) allowed old people to join! Now everybody and their dog (yeah, you can set up profiles for pets too) are on Facebook. But being on Facebook and knowing how to be a good parent on Facebook are two very different things. Today, I want to share an infographic with you that will blow your mind, rock your world, knock your socks off, and basically shock you. Read over it a couple of times asking yourself the question, “As a parent, what are the implications of this information?” At the end, I’ll share a few brief insights. Brace yourself:
- Though it may sound like begging, when your kids desperately want to be on Facebook and use the line that “ALL of my friends are already on it,” they’re telling the truth. Social media sites (of which Facebook is the largest) and texting are the new primary communication medium. As a parent, you can either adapt to this new reality and equip yourself with the knowledge and wisdom necessary to be a good online parent, or you can become non-present in an arena where your kids will spend a vast amount of time.
- Through social networking, information spreads at an astonishing rate, and there is basically no filter. One person’s interests and opinions are presented with the same weight and validity as another’s. If there are things you feel are your responsibility as a parent to teach your child (faith, sex, drugs, etc), you need to have those conversations BEFORE they get on Facebook. Once they’re on, they will learn, and the voices they hear from will very possibly not be the one’s you would select.
- The number of people on Facebook is staggering. Facebook itself claims the number of active users is 800 million, and over half of those people log on every day! If 30% of those users are over thirty, that means there are a lot of adults who have potential access to your child and his/her information. Teaching online safety and responsibility is a must (we’ll look at this in detail tomorrow).
- Facebook carries an enormous potential benefit for you as a parent. You now have the ability to see what your child is interested in, what she does with her friends, who she likes/is in a relationship with, what she muses about, etc. This is information that parents have vainly tried to drag out of their kids for centuries, and you can now find out with the click of a mouse. Eureka!
These thoughts are just the tip of the iceberg. Tomorrow we’ll look at some practical tips for how you can be the best possible parent on Facebook. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your reactions and observations as you browsed this infographic. What concerns you? What excites you? How have you or might you harness the power of Facebook to become an even better parent? Leave your thoughts and comments below.