Whether heading back to school as an upper classman or starting off as a freshman, transitioning into college used to come with a lot of freedom. Students spoke with their parents daily, or even weekly over the phone, sometimes sending emails back and forth and almost always limiting the amount of information they provided with their parents.
Times have since changed with the evolution of technology and now, much to some students’ dismay, parents have started keeping tabs on them via social networking sites. According to an info graphic from onlineschools.com, more than half of all parents have been using Facebook to spy on their teenage kids. Even still, of the roughly 150 million Facebook users, some 28 million of them are over the age of 45, reports Inside Facebook.
It’s easy for parents to want to keep tabs on their college-aged children via the social networking site but this can often hinder the child’s ability to make social connections and learn to live independently. With parents often a Facebook message away, it’s much easier for a child to go to them for help before first thinking of a solution to a problem on their own.
On the opposite end of the spectrum it’s easy for parents to snoop around on their child’s page, interjecting into otherwise “private” conversations or tagging their children in photographs without asking. What parents see as being helpful (shouldn’t you be studying instead of going to that party?), many college students see as being a nuisance, as is evidenced by a host of new websites such as “Oh Crap. My Parents Joined Facebook.”
A recent article posted by Mashable highlights several tips to help parents communicate with their children via Facebook without seeming overbearing.
1. Let your student set some ground rules: When a parent “friends” their child on Facebook, it’s up to the child to limit what mom and dad can and can’t see. Set some ground rules and discuss what your child feels is acceptable (commenting on a status update, versus tagging them in a photo, let’s say).
2. Respect your student’s space: It’s easy to want to jump into a conversation and call your child out on something they did. Instead, message them privately to spare everyone the embarrassment later.
3. Brach out from the usual platforms: Now, more than ever, there are more private ways of connecting with your child online. Skype now offers a group video feature which means mom, dad and other family members can all join in on a chat session with a child who is off at school.
4. Avoid over-communicating: Just because social networking keeps you connected to your children 24/7 doesn’t mean you always need to be reaching out to them. Going off to college is about growing up and learning to live independently from your parents.
Sure it’s nice to hear from mom and dad once-in-awhile, but when parents become too connected they might as well just pack up and move into their child’s dorm room too.