Attachment Style Facebook-ing

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I just read this article from BBC News on the use of Facebook and other online technology in classrooms.   I think this is pretty great, except for this part:

“Teachers setting up Facebook accounts should not befriend pupils, rather allow the children to take the initiative, Prof Heppell advises. They should not read their pupils’ Facebook pages and should never chat via instant message.”

Now, I don’t necessarily think teachers and students should chat via instant message, mostly to protect the teacher, but I do think that it’s important for kids to know that there is an adult presence even in cyberspace.

Being “around” on our kids’ Facebook pages and other social media is something that four of us here at Heart of the Matter Seminars discussed amongst ourselves a few years ago when our kids were getting to that age and were starting to get into social media.

It was an interesting dialouge because although the four of us parent from the same core set of beliefs and parenting principles, we have different styles and comfort levels–not only surrounding how we put those beliefs in place, but also surrounding social media!

In the end, we all agreed on the core belief “parenting in close proximity” doesn’t stop after infancy or even after grade school years.  It just looks different!  Facebook is a great example.   We made a conscious decision to be “friends” with our kids and each other’s kids.   A couple of the moms (who would never have been on Facebook otherwise) had to set up Facebook accounts to do this.

Because of our parenting beliefs, we’re not on there to “police” conversations so much as to guide and chaperone.  We take an active part in posting.  The beautiful thing is that because we’re “friends” with each other’s kids, even the less active moms feel more comfortable with their kids on Facebook.  And, I think it gives our kids a sense of comfort and closeness as well.

We can encourage, laugh with and sometimes challenge posts, ideas or situations that we might not otherwise hear about.    Some of the best discussions between my son and I have been sparked by Facebook posts that one of us has written or that one of us read from another “friend”.  It’s just another way to stay connected during the teen years when so many parents and children become more disconnected.

Heart of the Matter Seminars

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4 Responses to “Attachment Style Facebook-ing”

  1. Teri Kinney-Bishop Says:

    Katie, I recently went through these issues this past weekend. My daughter fractured ankle. So there went the 6 bball tournaments in June/July and the bball camp and the conditioning 4 days a week and so too much time on hands with activiteis gone left JC to make choices that were wrong! nothing inappropriate. but every tech rule we had – she broke. My son who does not use tech ways she does or care too did not even notice while home with her this summer. so let me say this- how did I know? From rules i established early on that she seemed to think were there for the looks of it. lol She is so great- smart- funny. But thinks she knows risks. So I constantly educate as to why each boundary is there. I show her stories ongoing that show kids who were at risk through online etc. I dont preach it always. I use every news story as a crutch. I will just say ” omg! JC did you see this girl on the news? I can not believe that happened to her. I know she never thought it would. its so sad that there are people out there you have to watch out for” etc….

    So the boundaries that I esablished from first account were: 1) one email account 2) one FB account 3) no other social media accounts unless I was petitioned and I agreed! 4) I had to be a fb friend 5) I was to have passwords of all accounts 5) If I ever try to log on and the password has been changed and I was not told then the account is closed for one year. 6) for kids under 15 – I have email linked with mine. they come in with mine on my android phone. kids forget this after a year. My son turned 16 and I trusted him for all the good decisions he made- I do not have his password to email but I do still have on computer log in 7) use the computer settings that come with the computer- my 12 year old has a user acct on the desk top and I have a user admin acct. she does not know my admin password, I have parental controls set. even if you dont want to restrict anything…it keep\s activity reports. lists what sites visited, what downloaded apps or software. But then you can set age appropriate restrictions, time limits, web content limits. 8) On my side, I agreed not to comment on the wall to her friends comments or hers if I had an issue with them- I agreed to inbox her. I would tell her – I dont like that post you made. it not appropriate for you to say that to her (example) and you need to remove. And she would. But I would not comment- I would let her forget i was there. lol. Unless it was about me or home- like if she had fun at zoo– then I would comment that I did too! ” I told her 9) i would not over react if she had request for something and would take 24 hours to think about it, Not just say no. Like to sign up for another service. But bottom line- it was all expected. There was no asking to be friends. It was when you open account here is what we do. 10) Now with this all said– I am now enforcing the rules I set. She set up a FB account and a twitter. I saw because of my monitoring of her emails. when she set up a second email it confirmed to her original email. So i saw that. Again, kids forget that you see it if you dont remind them. and they dont know the whole world sends confirms to your email. For the record, this sounds so clinical- but we are close and although mad at moment it happened- there was never shock. she knew it was not allowed. now she is caught. she has not whined or anything. I did not punish her more. i took way technology connetions. internet access at all for one month. after month she will have internet will full restrictions. all social sites are restricted – even ones she does not use. there are 15 on the list, so when she does log on- it will be for school info or just disney things etc. but i have it on high block. that will remain for long time. and no FB for year, but she can use house phone and friends can come over. the old fashing networking – face to face, so this is long. but its so fresh right now that i thought i would share! Good luck. 🙂

  2. Julie Drew Says:

    Just a thought……I think it would be hard to have a dummy parent page because if there was no activity on it we would know that it was a “dummy” page and it would be an awful lot of work to get friends to comment and interact on the “dummy” page just for showing your parents. Right?

  3. MJay Says:

    This is a great idea, and agree as both a perspective adoptive parent, and as a social worker that has worked with teens. I guess I wonder, how do you get by in. How do you get the kids to agree to friend you, or even make sure they don’t have a “dummy parent page” and post the “real” stuff on another one.

    • Katie Prigel Sharp Says:

      Good morning, MJay. I’m glad I’m not the only one up at 6am on a Saturday morning!!! (My youngest is sick or I would never be up this early on a weekend!)

      You brought up some good questions. Those things weren’t really too much of a concern for the simple fact that our kids have always been attachment style parented and so they are used to having us as a part of their lives. We’ve always been more present than is average for our society. Not, I hope, in a clingy or police-ing way. Just involved.

      For an example, we’re the moms who stayed at the 3rd graders birthday party instead of dropping our kid off like 80% of the others. We’re the moms who tried hard to regularly volunteer in our kids’ classrooms or for some of us, went on the field trips or helped on special school projects if we couldn’t regularly volunteer. After my youngest was born, I was the mom working from home in the summertime and it seemed like all the big kids in the neighborhood just naturally congregated here. By the same token, our kids are used to being involved in what we’re doing, too. For example, it’s always been a Heart of the Matter policy that kids are welcome at meetings and we all do about 90% of our work from our homes.

      Long story short, they and the majority of their friends (real life friends) are used to have us around and being involved in what we’re doing. It would be more unusual to not have some cross over.

      Having said that, it’s a good question about the dummy parent page. I’m sure there are more tech savvy folks out there that could give advice about how to really check up on that, but for me and my son it’s just not an issue, partly because “sneaky” has never been an issue. As I type this, I know it sounds really, really naive, but I honestly do trust him and have no reason not to trust him. Also, we have a family policy that there are no secret passwords allowed. He knows I can get into his facebook account and I do spot check sometimes.

      Thanks for the questions and good luck with your adoption plans!

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