Social media networks are everywhere – with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and many more. They can be a great way to keep track of friends and colleagues, share pictures, or just to vent about how much of a pain traffic has been this week.
But when you're a Dad, there's an added layer of thought that needs to go into your social media habits, because you can also affect your children's lives in a very real way.
Here are six rules to live by in the world of social media.
It's not just about today – Even though my daughter is too young to go online right now, that won't always be the case. When that day comes, all of my old posts will still be there, and odds are she'll be smart enough to find them. Aren't you the LEAST bit embarrassed by those party photos from college? My daughter doesn't need to find tons of embarrassing online material about her exists before she even opens an account
Set rules for kid users – As much as this is advice about how not to embarrass your kids, fatherhood also means you need to keep them safe. There are lots of creepy people out there, so – more than once – tell your kids not to give out personal information to strangers. And make sure it's not one of those conversations they ignore.
If it's in the bedroom, keep it offline – There is no need to share sex details publicly. None. While you may think it's different, this also applies if you're trying to get pregnant. Whether or not it's beautiful, everyone else looking at your post is saying "TMI" (Translation – Too much information).
No clothes, no posting – If you have an infant or toddler like me, odds are you have lots of naked or mostly naked pictures of your kids on your phone. If you want to take them and keep them, that's fine. Want to create a private online album with them? That's OK too. But there's no need for everyone else to see your kid's privates. Online bullying and teasing is real, and you don't need to create any ammunition.
Follow your kids, but stay out of their discussions – While it may initially create some father and daughter tension, it is a good idea to make your kids "friend" you so you can see what they're doing. You should, however, use that power carefully. If your kids are clearly having a fun conversation about something, stay out of it. Even if you have something to say, use discretion and only comment on things you "should" be involved in. If you start showing up all over their posts, they're just going to stop posting where you can see it. My own father is terrible at this, and it drives ME crazy. I can only imagine what my daughter would say.
Live in real life – If you see something online that worries you, don't comment. Go and talk to your child in person about it. There are lots of things that don't belong in an online conversation. This also makes it so they know they can come and talk to you about things they're worried about it.
In the end, following some basic online rules can help you keep an eye on your child without embarrassing them, which should help create a better offline relationship at the same time.
Do you have any other tips on how to coexist with your kids online?