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Facebook: To Connect or Not to Connect?

Determining whether or not to join Facebook is a tough question for parents. Although more and more adults are using Facebook to stay connected to peers, learn about sales and events happening at favorite shops, and post photos for family and friends, some hesitate for fear of what their children may think. This can be an especially tough struggle for parents of college students.

Do you really want to know how your student is spending his weekend? Or how much time he is spending on Facebook, instead of socially with others face-to-face or hitting the books? Here are some pros and cons to consider as you make the decision for yourself:

Pros of Connecting to Your Student on Facebook:

  • Facebook offers a quick and easy way to stay connected with your student. You can see pictures of his friends, view campus through his eyes, and easily communicate back and forth. Plus, you can post pics and news from home for your student to see too.
  • You can get a sense for how your student is faring at school. Is he meeting and connecting with new people? Is he posting information about cool things he's done or places he is planning on going?
  • You can relate to your student when she talks about friends. You'll see posts and pics on Facebook that will put a name and a face to the conversation.
  • Many students set up their Facebook accounts to receive notifications on their phones or other Mobile Internet Devices. So, if you need to quickly get in touch with your student, posting a message on Facebook offers an additional means of quick communication.
  • Your presence on your student's "friend" list may help keep her and her peers in check. This can help her in maintaining a good impression on Facebook as she gets ready for job searching and more.         Cons of Connecting with Your Student on Facebook:
  • Your student might feel like you are curtailing her privacy.
  • You'll see what he and his friends are really up to. There's no escaping photos and comments — you'll know how he is spending his weekend, how much or how little he is studying, and more than you ever wanted to know about his collegiate experience.
  • You might misinterpret something that is posted on Facebook, leading you to worry unnecessarily.
  • It takes time to keep up with Facebook. Maintaining a Facebook account is one more thing to add to your already busy schedule.
  • Connecting on Facebook could take the place of connecting on the phone. And there's nothing like hearing your student's voice and knowing she is safe and happy.

Talk with your student about your Facebook connection. See how she feels about it. You might be surprised! And if you do connect, be careful about what you post. Just as your student will be keeping herself in check, you should be careful about what you post for all the world to see too. Embarrassing your student certainly won't help the cause for staying connected.         

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