Chances are that if you are not already on Facebook, then you will soon be giving it a try. If you’re not looking to reconnect with long forgotten college buddies or an old flame or two, then maybe you are interested in finding out why your teen is spending so much time on the popular social networking site.
Whatever the reason, if you are setting up a Facebook account for the first time or even if you are a Facebook veteran we’ve put together a few tips to help you get the most out of your experience. You might even want to pass these along to your kids!
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1. Choose a good picture 1 of 10While you can upload and tag as many pictures of yourself as you want, you only have one profile photo, so make it a good one. While it might entertain some of your closer friends to post a picture of your cat or an image of Superman, the joke (if there ever was one) soon wears thin. Put your best face forward and have people say: "Wow, she looks good!"
2. Keep your profile updated 2 of 10Like your main photo, your profile says a lot about you. Make it honest but interesting, and keep it updated. One of the best ways to get in touch with old friends is by posting your education and work experiences. And although you don't have to get into your favorite quotations (never quite understood that one!), people will pay attention to your activities, your current interests, and even your favorite music and/or TV shows.
3. Its not a popularity contest! 3 of 10Facebook is not 9th grade (unless you're a 9th grader!). You aren't competing to prove you are the most popular kid in school. Don't friend every random person you can find or everyone that shows up on the People You May Know feature....or feel inadequate if you "only" have 40 friends. Facebook truly is about quality over quantity and unless you can devote every waking hour to the site, having 300+ friends probably says more about your lack of discrimination than your popularity!
4. Its OK to say no….really! 4 of 10This is the other side of #3. If you get a friend request from a random stranger, or from someone you hardly know, or someone you don't want to share your online life with, then it's OK to say no. Facebook makes it easy for you: if you ignore a friend request, nothing is reported and no-one is any the wiser.
5. Use the privacy settings 5 of 10Facebook has devoted much time and effort in developing a comprehensive set of privacy settings that can be customized to the nth degree. Use them. You may want to control what people see when they search for you, or you might want to restrict which friends can see tagged photos of you. The privacy settings can take care of this. Similarly, if you are tired of being constantly notified about trivial status updates and wall posts, then you can control that too.
6. Friend your family 6 of 10One of the most rewarding aspects of Facebook is its ability to draw families closer together and help them share news that usually gets relegated to the once-a-year holiday letter. Friend those fun cousins in Texas that you only get to see at weddings and funerals, or the aunt that was so good to you when you were a kid. Hey you might even be able to friend your kids as they get older! This time not to keep an eye on them but instead to find out how life on campus is working out.
7. Use wall posts 7 of 10Don't just message people, otherwise you might as well stick to e-mail! Use the wall posts and share it with everyone! The wall post is the true essence of Facebook. Someone's birthday? Post a Happy Birthday on their wall. Your friend just got a promotion? Use his wall to congratulate him. Having a great vacation in Hawaii? Post it on your wall and make â€˜em all jealous!
8. Don’t poke! 8 of 10Or at least not until you know what it means! The poke still remains a mystery to most Facebook users. When you poke someone, you don't get to say what the poke is about, and the recipient just gets a message telling them they have been poked. Okay…… Perhaps the poke is a hangover from the days when Facebook was regarded as a student dating site. That might explain the Facebook group called: "Enough With The Poking, Let's Just Have Sex"!
9. Tag photos 9 of 10If the wall post is the heartbeat of Facebook, then photos are the smile. Photos make Facebook fun and will bring your page alive. The more photos you post, the more people will connect with you. Also, learn how to tag photos that's adding names to the faces in the pictures. It's easy and it's the best way to send the pics to people in the photos. But be nice. Only post and tag photos that you think the person would be happy to have circulated to their Facebook friends!
10. Careful with the kids 10 of 10If you have teenage children and are lucky enough to friend them on Facebook, tread very carefully. You might see some things that you are tempted to comment on, either on Facebook itself or face-to-face offline. But unless it's a case of cyberbullying, or someone is putting themselves in danger, or the behavior is totally inappropriate, be careful not to overreact. To most teenagers, their Facebook profile and how they are perceived online by their friends is extremely important to them. It would be very uncool to have a parent jump in with critical remarks. Feel fortunate that you have a trusting enough relationship with your child to get friended in the first place and enjoy it for as long as it lasts!
Monica Vila is TheOnlineMom -a community devoted to promoting a healthy understanding and appreciation for the positive role technology can play in a child’s life. She’s constantly chatting on Facebook here or on Twitter @TheOnlineMom where you are more than welcome to join the conversation
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