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Mama Said: Facebook Etiquette for Moms

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Educators are constantly talking about how to teach kids responsible use of the Internet and social media. Parents look over their child’s shoulder while he or she is logged on. Schools try to address social media safety and appropriate Google searches. We use software to try to block “bad” sites.

But what about moms on Facebook?

Facebook provides many of us with a place to connect with family and friends dispersed all over the country. It is an easy way to say, “Hey, look what we’re up to!” or “Don’t the kids look awesome?!”

It is fun to log on and get a glimpse into our old friends’ lives. It makes us feel that we are a still a part of them. And it gives us a place to vent about the latest ridiculous story in politics or entertainment. Facebook has made it easy to find friends we thought were long lost to us.

Yet we do not all feel the same way about what should, or should not, be posted there.

I grew up in a home with an unlisted phone number due to threatening phone calls received when I was young. It drove people crazy when they couldn’t find us. Back then, the “you’re not listed?” was the same as today’s “you’re not on Facebook?”

Do you live under a rock, or what?

I have a Facebook page. I even have a blog where I write about my life and my thoughts about topics like parenting, education, society and politics. For me, that is providing the world with a whole lot of access. But I never post photos of our family, even though some of my favorite bloggers share theirs. I never say where we are at a given moment in time. I get uncomfortable when other people tag me in their photos (mostly because I look like a dork). And I never mention my kids’ names or where they go to school. I also never post pictures of my kids’ friends.

I know that my precautions are unnecessary, mostly because if the bad guys are coming, they will find a way. Google and the government could probably see the signs and count the meager earnings from our lemonade stand this week!

Yet I think we forget that everyone has different experiences, different filters through which they register the world, and diverse views on what should remain private or what they need to feel safe. And I don’t want to be the one who provides the bad guys with a roadmap.

It is always so nice that moms take pictures of all the kids on the soccer team or on the class field trip and then take the time to post them on Facebook for those of us who could not be there. But as soon as your crazy cousin “likes” a picture of the kids at sleep-away camp for the first time, his even crazier friends see it too. You know there’s a mom out there feeling uneasy that some weirdo knows her child is alone in the woods with a bunch of twenty-something counselors who barely know her.

Maybe moms need social media guidelines just like our children do. I thought I would share mine. Ask before you post a photo of someone else’s kids. Don’t mention where those kids are playing at that very moment, how much fun your two families are having on vacation (“Burglars, the house is all yours!”), or where the kids go to school. Remember that your crazy cousin has crazy friends… and you told the other moms all about him before he “liked” your last post.

Jennifer Kelly is a Denver mom of three boys and a writerwith a focus on early childhood education. In 2010, that focus culminated in her founding Penny Jar Kids, which creates Global Giving Kits to engage children in philanthropy while learning about the cultures they choose to support.  She also writes jennswondering, a blog that focuses on the challenges of parenting and teaching. 

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson July 24, 2013

    Guilty and this is a good reminder I need to be more careful with what I post. But as one who lives and breathes social media, I’m also admittedly a “you live under a rock” person, too. I just think there should be a balance. 95% of my friends are active on social media so I don’t worry about posting pictures of their kids because they’re doing it as well but I don’t ever tag them.

  • comment avatar Monica July 24, 2013

    I understand parents who are fearful about being online but also think parents absolutely need to be informed and ON social media so they can monitor what their kids are doing, privacy settings, etc. For my few friends who aren’t on Facebook, their kids are and that is a parenting fail. How can they protect them and teach them online etiquette if they themselves do not know how to do it themselves? This is a different world we’re living in.

    I haven’t researched this at all but I’ve never heard of any news stories about someone who preys upon pictures of children they’ve seen tagged on Facebook. All of the children who are abducted (at least as reported by the media) are either related to the person or they are not being supervised so they predator sees opportunity.

    Just my two cents. Yes, of course, be careful with what you’re putting out there but this is a new world and we’re all trying to figure out the rules.

  • comment avatar elizabeth July 24, 2013

    I am not on Facebook so I am definitely living under a rock. But if I were, I too would proceed with caution. You have provided us with some good food for thought. Thanks!

  • comment avatar Kayla July 24, 2013

    Rarely, only if I know the mom and we share pics of one another’s children. Otherwise, absolutely not and I would hope our friends are respecting this as well.

  • comment avatar Lana July 24, 2013

    I’m definitely not this way but am a respecter of those who are.

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