I am a car dealer in Salem, Virginia, not a social media expert. However, I use Facebook as an advertising platform for my car dealership everyday. We have a little over 4,000 followers, and my Mom is one of our biggest fans. I love my Mom to death, but, my Mother is 85 years old and was new to the social media world. She would sometimes make comments or statements on my business page that would be better suited in a text message, or she will make them on our children's personal FB pages.
My mother would often get upset over things on Facebook, she didn't understand. When I say upset, I mean calling me crying and just emotionally wrecked, over maybe a picture or joke, that she didn't understand. I talked my Mother into getting off of Facebook. I am sure she is much happier. After my experience with my Mom, I learned many people have the same issues. Here is a guide I wrote for parents and grandparents. I do hope someone will benefit from this.
Facebook is a great platform to keep in touch with family and friends, and share each other’s lives. You love your family and want to be involved and show them you care. However, it is very easy to accidentally cross the line of keeping in touch, to being an unintended stalker and being annoying to that person you love.
Here are some insightful tips for parents of grown children and grandparents.
1- Understand their Facebook page is their circle of friends- It is an important way for them to communicate with their chosen friends. Having Mom and Dad or Grandpa and Grandma( now referred to as MDGG) comment on each post is very much a no, no. All their circle of friends see these comments and can be made to feel very uncomfortable posting anything in return to them, knowing their MGDD is watching. Example- 30 year old Valerie post a picture of her Halloween costume, which is sexy and a little revealing. MDGG comments “ you look lovely” ,” you’re showing too much cleavage” “are you going to a party”, can be very embarrassing to Valerie and is not what the photo was posted for. Understand the like button is appropriate almost always. Comments are not.
2- Do not friend their friends- Facebook friends are people that are chosen to be in their circle. You may have people you both know in your friends circle but your child or grandchild will have many friends of their own. You do not know their friends and your child or grandchild does not need you to know them either. It is their chosen circle. It can seem really weird and somewhat creepy when a middle aged to elderly MDGG, friend request a 20 or 30 year old someone they do not know. Do not make your child or grandchild’s friends think their MDGG are kind of creepy. It can actually affect the friendship your child or grandchild has with that person.
3- Respect their work and professional life- Many of your children and grandchildren use social media for work related purposes. They may have a separate business page or might just use their own personal profile. In their business contacts, there can be people of great influence in their professional lives. It can be Bosses, current and potential clients or related employers that are watching that page and that person. Their professional image does not need or want MDGG to be involved with this part of their life. If you want to know how their professional life is going, posting on their business or professional page is a huge “don’t do it”. You don’t need to say “good job son”, “love you my little girl “, “That’s my boy”, or “I’m proud of you” on a business post. This can be seen as unprofessional to people that may actually have an influence in your son, daughter or grandchild’s business and will be a little embarrassing to your child or grandchild, though they will probably never tell you. They will want to spare your feelings, just spare them the embarrassment and just hit the like button if you must.
4- Learn to text- Texting is completely different than social media. It is a private conversation you share between two people, and not for the whole world to see. Example- Valerie is pregnant and post on Facebook “ I’m going to find out the gender of my child today, I’m so excited”. An appropriate comment could be “congrats”, or “can’t wait” or a simple click of the like button. An inappropriate comment would be “ is that man taking you”, “am I going to be able to keep the baby some”. Or let’s say Valerie post a picture of her and a man you do not know. A MDGG inappropriate comment would be “ you look good together”, or “who is this man”. A simple click of the like button or if you do not know the other person, skipping the post all together would be the right thing to do. This post was obviously not made for you to understand or for you to question. If you have questions, call them or text them, but for the most part, mind your business and just skip it.
5- Don’t hijack post- If your child or grandchild makes a post that you do not understand or does not speak of the family in general, it is probably not made for you to comment on or to react to. Some post are meant for friends their age, or a certain group of friends that share an interest, and not for MDGG. You do not need to comment on many of their post. Most children and grandchildren are going to communicate with MDGG by phone or in person. They have either accepted your friend request or requested you as a friend out of respect and so not to hurt your feelings. Understand they love you wholeheartedly, but their online presence does have limits. Be glad they have feelings for you and showed you the respect of an online friendship, but understand that is their world, not yours, and they expect you to be in their real world, not their social media world.
6- Calm Down- When scrolling on Facebook, there are going to be post that you don’t understand, some you take the wrong way, and some that just make you mad. Keep on scrolling. The sense of humor may be something you don’t understand. It may be an inside joke you are not a part of. MDGG have no business getting into a political, racial, religious or any other sensitive matter conversation on their child or grandchild’s page. Your family loves you but believe me, they will block or unfriend you if you are an embarrassment to them online. Mind your manners and just keep it to yourself. If you see something that upsets you, remember that text thing I was talking about, send them a text or if you must, call them.
7- But I must look out for my kid- If you are a Mom or Dad, it is absolutely your job to monitor and teach your child about the dangers online and the consequences that can come from any social media platform. This guide is more about children over the age of 18. However, I will say, at the age of 18, you have to be ready to let them go online. If you have raised them right, they should be responsible enough to understand right from wrong, and what is appropriate to post and what is not. If they are not ready, that is as much on you as it is them. Sorry, just a hard truth. Being a good parent you must understand the importance of an “image” to a teen and someone in their early 20’s. Their online image is just as important to them as your reputation is to you. They can have hundreds or thousands of online friends, and many of those only know your youngster from their online contact. They are still learning who they are, what they want to be, who real friends are and how to interact with all of them. They will always need MDGG in their lives, but at this age independence is an important step in adulthood. We must let them learn, let them succeed, and unfortunately, let them occasionally fail, to learn what life is about. Be there for them, give them a loving ear when needed, but let them come to you. They do not want your help in many personal problems, and all it would do is upset you and the adult child.
8- MDGG is new on social media- This is about your protection. So you are fairly new to Facebook or whatever platform. There are dangers to you, that you must look out for. There are many scammers in the world, and they love to pray on older individuals that do not understand it’s a scam. First, do not accept friend request from anyone you do not know. Second, do not post information about being home alone, about going on vacation, or posting any pictures of valuables you own. Scammers will look for easy prey. They will look for people living alone, and look for post about homes being empty. They will look at your immediate family members, They may pretend to be your grandchild or child and tell you they are in trouble and need money. Grandparents, They will tell you please don’t tell Mom and Dad. Do not mail, wire or meet anyone to give them money. This can happen by phone or online. Be careful and expect it to be a scam unless you absolutely know it to be true.
9- Lay off the personal photos- While you are proud of your family and want the world to see, many MDGG post photos that are unflattering or very personal to other family members. A text of “ do you mind if I post this” is much better received than tagging someone in a photo, or posting it without tagging them. You may think the photo is cute but the other person may not want their friends to see it for whatever reason. Sure posting pics of your kids when very young is a proud thing for any Mom and Dad to do. But when Jr is 15 and you’re posting a picture of him sitting in a sink naked as a one year old, he may be very much against any of his friends seeing this. Unfortunately, we live in a cruel world where online bullying and in school bullying is very real. Don’t give any of their “friends” ammunition against them. Just try to use common sense. There is nothing wrong with being proud of your family and wanting to show them off to the world, just be aware of the impact the wrong photos can have on someone’s personal and professional lives.
10- Do you really need social media and enjoy it?- Social media can be a great platform if used properly, but social media can also cause a lot of unwelcome drama. Many friendships, marriages and families have been divided, over social media.
The perils of social media can be real. Just be sure as a MDGG, you are not the cause of any of the drama. Follow the steps above, and you will greatly enhance the enjoyment of your family, while having you as a social media friend. And remember, social media is nowhere near as important in your life as the actual people are. As a Mom, Dad, Grandmother or Grandfather, your family loves you with or without social media. Please don’t be offended if you see this on one of your family members post. It is meant as a post to help you, not criticize you. We don’t care about your social media so much, we care about you.
Love you Mom! Stay happy, stay off social media!
Owner / Operator
Competition Cars and Classics
610 W 4th St. Salem, Va. 24153