DING! We all love that sound don’t we. ‘Oh, I have a notification, someone loves me!’ It’s not even just a ‘LIKE’ either, there’s a little red shape with a 1 in it next to those 2 little people silhouette things on Facebook, ‘Someone wants to be my friend!’ Then you realise it’s a kid. One of your children’s friends. What do you do?
Well, I don’t know really. I guess there’s a million things to factor in before tapping accept or decline. I’ll tell you what went through my mind…
Why do they want to follow me?
I can’t answer this, I have no idea. I’d like to think it’s because to an 11-14 year old I’m a relatively young parent, I’m into tech, social media, YouTube and in my opinion I’m cool AF #Obvs #Totes – See what I mean.
How well do I know them?
This will be different for a lot of people. We’re really active in the Home Education community so we interact with other people’s kids of all different ages all of the time. Thus we get to build relationships with an array of different young people.
What will their parents think?
Similarly to the above really, we tend to build relationships with many parents and their children at the same time. Even before the Home Ed scene came about our other daughter who’s still in school has had a small group of friends since nursery, she’s 13 now! So as you can imagine, my wife in particular has built up plenty of trust with those kids and their parents over the years. Having a relationship with their parents directly helps, as you can then gauge whether they’d find it acceptable or not or even if they’d prefer you spoke with them first.
Is it spying or responsible parenting?
One of the main things that came back when I put this out on Facebook and Twitter, was that it could be a good way to spy on your children and gain an insight into what they’re life online looks like. Spying, I prefer to call that responsible parenting, sounds more parenty 🙂 I personally like to have my girls on my Facebook anyway, I can keep an eye on it from my side and also try to lead by example for them to see how to conduct yourself online, I’m not saying I always succeed but I try. In addition to that, until we feel they’re responsible enough we have all log in details for all of their accounts anyway, now that is responsible parenting!
Further to this, if you have a good relationship with your kids friends parents, then maybe there’s a shared responsibility to look out for each others children online also. Maybe having your adult friends on there as backup incase you miss anything is a good thing, more eyes to help keep your children safe whilst online.
Am I a good role model to be following?
Well, we share a chunk of our lives online through our YouTube channel and other social media accounts and it’s all family friendly. It actually takes up so much time that it’s pretty much all I share online so I’d guess I am a good role model. Do I swear occasionally, yes. Is that a deal breaker in terms of being a good roll model, not for me. I know some people are no-holds barred and go for it online, would you want your child or other people’s to see that, probably not, so something to think about.
I’m a man, does this change things?
Sadly I think it does. My view point comes from being usually the only man/dad involved at many activities on a weekly basis. Whilst this does not either effect or phase me one single bit, I think society still has a huge way to go in changing this. I spend loads of time with women/mums and their children both boys and girls. I’d like to think that means it’s not weird at all that I build a relationship in real life or online with these children as I will have gotten to know them and their parents/my friends really well.
However, we did a little test using our 11 year old and 13 year olds Facebook accounts. We looked how many of their friends mum’s they had on there compared to dad’s. I bet you can guess what we found, or rather what we didn’t find. Not a single dad, not even one! This is simply because their friends dad’s aren’t involved in anything where my children would be generally. It tends to be the mums that organise birthday parties, sleepovers, school runs, after school/home ed activities etc as well as overseeing these events meaning my children build up some trust with these mums making it OK to add them online. This is no-ones fault, it’s just how the majority of families operate.
It does though mean that men/dads like me are nowhere near common enough, making this whole situation different for us, or at least that’s how I feel… After thinking far too much about it clearly!
That’s a lot of thinking just to accept a friend request on Facebook isn’t it. I may need a lay down after all that. I’d love to hear what you think, leave me a comment and let me know if you’ve had any similar or different thoughts. See you online… @dadvworld
I’m linking this post up to #ThatFridayLinky