When my kids (now ages 18 and 15) first got on Facebook, I was concerned about cyber-bullying, stalking, inappropriate postings that were recorded for posterity, and more. Needless to say, all I saw were the negatives.

Fast forward 3-4 years…things have changed A LOT. First of all, I’m on Facebook. I don’t use it for business (that’s what LinkedIn is for), and don’t record my every waking moment either – no one is interested in that stuff, not even me! Mainly, I use Facebook to stay in touch with far-flung family and friends. Luckily, we ‘Friended’ both our kids a few years ago, and they accepted our invitation. Not sure they would if we invited them today.

When our 18 year old was in high school, she posted photos and comments on Facebook regularly. Through my Facebook newsfeed, I could ‘see’ what she was up to and who she was with. I occasionally mentioned something I saw there, but mainly just enjoying that window on her world.

Either college has become so demanding that her Facebook post frequency has dropped dramatically, OR (more likely) Facebook allows users to block some but not all of their posts from some but not all of their ‘Friends.’ Whatever the reason, we see only about one post a week these days. I regret now having ever mentioned that I’d seen something on her Facebook page – maybe she wouldn’t have restricted my access!

So, here are 3 recommendations for parents who want to keep in touch with what’s really going on in their kids’ lives through Facebook:

  1. ‘Friend’ your kids when they first get on Facebook – at that stage, they’re looking to grow their friend count and are less choosy about whose offers they accept
  2. Avoid commenting on your kids’ Facebook pages – it will just remind them that you’re ‘watching’ them
  3. Use Facebook for staying in touch with other people – that way your kids can’t claim that your only reason for being there is to spy on them and you’ll learn about new features without having to ask your kids

Of course, talking with them is still the best way to keep in touch with your kids. And when talking is uncomfortable, just being with them works great. For those of us with kids living away from home, Facebook is a way to be with them figuratively when we can’t do it for real.

Judy Hopelain is a fellow boomer and guest contributor. She is a strategic marketing executive with over 20 years experience driving growth through product/service offering and marketing innovation. She lives in Marin County, CA with her husband and teenage son and the void her first born has left by running off to college.