by Kelley Korbin, with special thanks to her own in-house experts
Parents spend a lot of time and effort preaching to their children about the dangers of online interactions.
And rightly so. There are good reasons to be cautious about putting yourself out there on the web.
But parents can learn a lot from their kids about social media, too. We tend to post in ways that might not be dangerous, but are definitely embarrassing, if not to ourselves, then at least to our children.
Here are 10 tips on how to avoid common parental social media mistakes.
1. NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR WORKOUTS
Or the photos of the fabulous meal you cooked. Most of us barely have time for the mundane details of our own lives. We aren’t that interested in yours.
2. DON’T OVERSELL
No matter how many times he hit it out of the park at T-ball practice, your kid most likely won’t be the next Derek Jeter. Plus, if he’s old enough to be on social media himself, he’s probably done with you drawing attention to him on your timeline or in your Instagram posts.
3. BRAG, DISCREETLY
If you must boast about little Sally’s gold medal in the science fair, don’t spell it out. Post one photo. And while we’re talking photos, ask your son before you post that cute one of him at age three in the bathtub. Do you understand the vast size of your child’s social media network?
4. OVERPOSTING LEADS TO UNFRIENDING
Quality over quantity—these are words to live by. Same rule applies to social media. Continuous tweeting, linking, posting and commenting on everything you see is annoying. Post when you have something truly worthwhile or funny to share.
5. RESTRAIN YOURSELF
Subtlety reigns in the social media world. Cleverness and wit are king. Kids seem to grasp this concept intuitively. We grown ups need to work on it.
6. STAY IN THE BACKGROUND
Your kids aren’t dummies. On some level they know you’re monitoring their social media. But stifle the urge to ‘like’ or comment on their social media posts. If you snoop covertly they won’t be tempted to ‘unfriend’ you and you’ll be able to lull them into half-forgetting you’re even there. It’s an effective way of monitoring their behavior. If you do have concerns about what they’re posting, talk to them face-to-face.
7. ERR ON THE SIDE OF DIRECT COMMUNICATION
Do you engage in personal one-to-one conversations in the midst of a group of people you don’t know? That’s rude, right? Then don’t do it on your Facebook wall.
8. SAVE LOL OR HAHAHA FOR OTHER PEOPLE’S POSTS
If what you’re posting is funny you shouldn’t have to point this out to people. As for emoticons, use them sparingly and precisely.
9. PLAY WITH SOMEONE YOUR OWN AGE
It’s weird to send invitations to your kids’ friends to play Candy Crush. Likewise, check out links before you post them and consider your audience. Your grown-up friends probably aren’t interested in taking a quiz to discover which era of Taylor Swift they are.
10. BE REAL
Sometimes it seems as if everyone on social media has the virtually perfect family. But lives can be messy and complicated. Share a little vulnerability once in a while. We’ll love you more for it.
Basically, the kids are giving us the same message we’re trying to give them. Social media is not an alternate universe. It’s part of the world we live in every day, and as such, the same rules apply—whether they’re about encounters with strangers or how we engage with our friends.