Facebook-stalking 101 for parents

BJ Fogg, director of Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab, announced this week a free, noncredit course called “Facebook for Parents.” Fogg is teaching the class with his sister, Linda Fogg Phillips, and they have also created the site Facebook for Parents.

Their basis advice to parents is to sign up for Facebook, friend your kids, then Facebook-stalk them. As generic advice for parents of Facebooking kids of all ages, this strikes me as paranoid overkill–especially for parents of college kids. Wouldn’t the equivalent real life parenting advice be “Join your kid’s fraternity/sorority, get to know their frat brothers, go to the parties and watch them interact.” Does Facebook really pose more extensive dangers to our kids than real life interaction?
How about we teach our kids how to behave responsibly online and give them increasing freedom to do so as they mature?
That strategy has worked for me for both real life freedom and online freedom. I’m friends with my kid on FB, but we have a tacit understanding that we don’t pay too much attention to each other there.

2 Responses to “Facebook-stalking 101 for parents”

  1. 1 Chris February 12, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Steven–Thanks for the comment and for sharing your experience. It sounds like your experience with your kids is similar to mine with my 16 yr old.
    I guess I just found the tone of the Facebook for Parents advice to be more of a “watchdog” type tone than as a natural extension of involved parenting.


  2. 2 Steven February 12, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I’ve been friends with my sons on FB since the beginning and they’ve never balked.

    I do know their friends and insert myself into their organizations as an adult volunteer (high school sports teams, marching band, scouting etc.) and they’ve never minded. They understand that I’m not there as a watchdog, just to be part of their lives. And yes, that I expect a certain level of conduct from them and their friends.

    As they move on to college, they’ve often written to say “thanks for everything you’ve done for me, I look at those around me in the dorm and realize that they’re they way they are because their parents didn’t care enough to act like parents.”

    Note that the “Facebook for Parents” description indicates that it’s intended for parents with kids under 18 years of age. As my sons move on to college, they certainly don’t expect me to go with them physically or online — what we’ve taught them will carry on with them or it won’t, though as a parent I expect that it will — but guess what… they’re inviting us to college sporting events, bringing their friends home and choosing to make us a part of their new groups, part of their new lives. That’s what parenting is about.


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