One of the best things about Facebook and other social networking sites is coming across people you forgot you even knew. High school and college buddies who may have slipped out of your life are suddenly there again. But while we may enjoy reconnecting with long lost friends on Facebook, many of us use social networking sites to keep up with people we see on a regular basis. People close very to us. People like our kids.
According to a new survey by Retrevo, nearly half of all parents are ‘friends’ with their teenagers on social networking sites. And these friendships, while certainly authentic, are oftentimes formed as a way to exert some parental control. Many parents see social networking not only a way to keep tabs on what their kids are up to online, but also as a valuable disciplinary tool. According to that same survey, 12% of parents ban their kids from social networking as a form of punishment. This is compared to 18% who ban all Internet use when their kids misbehave.
But while some parents may be tough when it comes to online activities, others are much more relaxed. Of the 1,000 parents surveyed, only 29% said they forbid texting at the dinner table. Now, we’ve all seen the statistics that say kids who eat dinner together with their families do better in school and are less likely to drink, smoke and do drugs, but does it still count when their attention is focused elsewhere?
And speaking of focusing attention elsewhere, the survey revealed that some parents allow their kids to ignore the rules when it comes to social networking sites. Despite the fact that sites like Facebook prohibit kids under the age of 13 from joining, 8% of parents feel its okay for kids under 12 to do it anyway.
How about you? Do you think ‘friending’ your kid helps you be a better parent? And do you use Internet restrictions to punish your kids?