Forty one percent of parents have friended their child on a social network site and more than 60% of teenagers report that they know their parents have checked their social media profile.
According to the PEW Research Study (see Parts 1 and 2 of this article), parents who friend their teens on social media are more likely to utilize other monitoring tools: 63% of parents who friend their teens use parental controls, while only 31% of parents who are not “friends” with their teens use these tools on their computer.
The PEW Study notes that teens have mixed feelings about being friended by their parents on Facebook. Some teens saw it as a normal part of a parent’s job and were relatively unbothered by it; others felt violated by their parents having access to thoughts and conversations that are meant for their friends.
In another study conducted by Kaplan Test Prep, 65% of teenagers surveyed said that they were comfortable having their parents as Facebook friends. However, 38% said that they would ignore friend requests from their parents, and 16% said that in order to use the social media site they were required to be “friends” with their parents.
Parents should know that their kids can to some extent control who sees what on their Facebook timeline by dividing their friends into different groups and then indicating which groups can view each comment or photo they post.
So while friending your kid(s) on Facebook can allow you to monitor some of their activities, it’s not a fool-proof system. It’s up to you to determine what level of monitoring you’re comfortable with, and how much information you feel you should access to be the best parent you can be.
Part 4 of this article will look at reasons why using parental controls is a good idea– for you and your kids—to ensure mobile and Internet safety.
Tim Woda is a passionate advocate for protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers – cyberbullying, sexting and online predators. He is the co-founder of uKnow.com, developers of uKnowKids.