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Should You Friend Your Kids on Facebook?

Is “Friending” the Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift? As your kids are scratching their heads, trying to figure out what to get you for Mother’s Day? Is this the moment to ask for your son or daughter’s Facebook friendship? Is it a good idea? How many parents are FaceBook Friends with their kids? And while we’re on the subject, are you okay with your younger children owning their own Facebook or MySpace page to begin with? Should there be an age restriction? And where do you stand on children and texting? Do you find yourself having to police “excessive” texting? And, if they get out of line, do you ground them or take away their favorite gadgets?

If you're like other parents, you're dealing with these issues and more, on a daily basis. In this Gadgetology Report, Retrevo looks at parent/child social media friendship, appropriate age for Facebook accounts, age-appropriate gadgets, and digital age discipline. You might also want to check out Retrevo's report, "Should a Nine Year Old Have a Cell Phone," which looks at children and gadgets.

Hello Mother… Hello Father…On Facebook Are you Facebook friends with your kids already? If not, are you sure you want to be? FaceBook-using parents in this study were almost evenly divided with about 48% saying they are Facebook friends with their kids, whereas 52% said they are not. Andrew Eisner, director of content at Retrevo adds, "It looks like more parents with teenage children are more likely to be friends with their kids, although many admit it can be awkward at times but they say they do learn a lot about their teenagers, which is probably why children are so hesitant to “friend” their parents to begin with."

Just Being a Protective Parent Eisner added, "Not that it would be easy (how about impossible) to prevent a kid from having their own Facebook or MySpace page if they were determined to have one, most parents agreed that teenage years were the right years for a child’s first Facebook or MySpace page."

Listen to Your Mother; Put That Cell Phone Away and Eat Your Dinner! If you ever have to tell your kids to stop texting at the dinner table, you're not alone, but we were surprised to discover that only 1/3 of parents said texting was not allowed during family meals. Is it because there is an expectation of child restlessness at the dinner table? Maybe parents are texting as well.

Mother Knows Best When we asked what parents do when their kids misbehave, we were gratified (as a gadget enthusiast site) to see that the most popular answer didn't involve depriving them of their gadgets. Most parents said they have a talk with their kids. That technique was followed by grounding and then taking away TV privileges. For example, 25% of parents of 9 to 12 year olds try and have a talk with them first. Many parents did indicate they take away cell phones and internet access, but those "punishments" were much less popular than the first two, Andrew Eisner commented, "chalk one up for communication and "diplomacy," if only world leaders were as sensible as most parents."

Age-Appropriate Gadgets
Social media presents new challenges for parents to deal with and that includes all the gadgets that make it so easy for kids to access social media sites anywhere they happen to be. Ultimately, it’s up to each and every individual parent to decide the appropriate age for their children to use social media and devices to access social media like cell phones and laptops. When it comes to finding age-appropriate devices, Retrevo can help.

If your children are 12 or under, the LG VX100 is a great starter cell phone (absent of social media access), and the Disney Asus MK90H laptop is web-safe and designed with applications for kids. For teenagers, we recommend the iPad for reading iBooks, keeping a calendar, note taking, and school projects. It has internet access and music, photo, and YouTube capabilities. If you’re looking for a solid value in a smartphone and want something that your teenager will actually like, the HTC Hero is worth a look. It’s reasonably priced and packed with social media apps as well as multimedia functions for music, photos, and video. As a bonus, teens can create “Scenes”, customized profiles for every day of the week –a nice feature to match your teenager’s dynamic personality.



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