Since I began using Facebook in 2006 I remember I have had a few situations where I have received friend requests from Kids who are in the family or are the kids of my close friends.
Over the years my way of thinking has changed drastically on accepting friend requests from kids and although I have a few exceptions like kids in my family I have opted for not accepting any friend requests from kids. I am mainly talking about Facebook because this type of behavior is more common on this platform but my thoughts would apply to most social platform.
Accepting Friend Requests from your Kids Friends
A few weeks ago this post was inspired when Chris Brogan during Kitchen Table Talks on the Pulse mentioned that our good friend Berni (@bernixiong) had received friend requests from her son’s friends. I guess that since my daughter is a few days over a year old I won’t be having that problem anytime soon but I can clearly relate with Berni based on past experiences where kids sent me friend requests and I had to decline.
Issues with Accepting Friend Requests from Kids
Accepting friend requests from Kids can cause many future issues and misunderstandings and rejecting a friend request from a kid might not be the easiest thing to do since you probably don’t want to hurt their feelings but overall it is very risky and my recommendation is to reject those friend requests in a polite way.
For example on occasions I might post something that might not be completely appropriate or understood correctly by a young kid. These happen rarely on my timeline but some topics and content are not appropriate for kids. I personally try to share online what I understand my mom or grandma would not be embarrassed to see but sometimes some of the topics my contacts are writing about in which I respond might also not be appropriate for kids.
If these apply to you it is recommended to reject the friend request:
When you are their Teacher, Counselor, or Coach.
In some places like Missouri a Senate Bill 54 makes it illegal for teachers to connect with students on any type of social networking site that allows private communications. The bill needs some tweaking because it has lots of gray areas but personally I would follow what the bill establishes. If you are also in any position of authority like a sports coach, counselor, or babysitter you should try to stay away from keeping in contact on platforms that have a private communications channel.
When they are your Kids Friends
You never know with what intentions your kid’s friends are sending friend requests on Facebook (let’s hope they are well intentioned). It is better to politely decline and let them know you only use the platform for family members and other adults.
When the Kids are Strangers
I clearly stay away from accepting friend requests from strangers on most platforms unless they have something interesting in their blogs or content they share that is of value to me. But when it comes to kids I don’t accept kids that are not family members.
The only exception in my case when accepting friend request with kids on Social Networks is if they are part of my family. In my case I have Lucy’s nephews and I communicate with them through Facebook very often. I see them as my nephews also and most importantly their mom is ok with me having them as my contacts. I also keep an eye on them to make sure they are safe online. Always be very transparent when you add a kid even if they are family let their parents know and verify if it is ok to have them as a contact on Facebook. Don’t assume it is ok.
Be also careful when Adding Contacts
When you add people in your social networks via email make sure that the adult that owns the email is using the email. I have seen a few adults that give their kids their email to open up a Facebook account and you might be sending a request to the parent and friending their son or daughter. I had a very uncomfortable situation when I used the application on Facebook to add my Gmail contacts as friends.
A friend of mine had given his daughter his email so she could open her Facebook account and I believe at the moment she was not old enough to use the platform. On one occasion he asked me why I had sent a request to his daughter on Facebook. I really had no answer because I had not sent his daughter any request. I felt very uncomfortable because I put myself in his issues and thought it was a bit strange that someone would want to add his daughter on Facebook. Weeks later I ran my Gmail contacts to see who else had joined Facebook in my contacts and I see his daughter on the friends suggested I confirmed that I had sent his email a friend request and his daughter accepted it. This guy is not very tech savvy so till this day I am not sure if he understood that I had sent him a friend request and since his daughter has signed up to Facebook using his email account it went to her.
Till this day it bothers me that someone allowing their kid to use a platform they don’t understand when they are not even of the appropriate age to use the platform. He was very irresponsible because he did not know better but it was easier for him to question my actions.
Always check your contacts to make sure you have the right people. You don’t want any surprises.
Who is friending your kids?
On the other side it is critical that you as a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, or guardian keep an eye on how is adding your kids as their contacts on social platforms. I will leave this topic for future posts. If you want to receive future posts via email feel free to subscribe to our mailing list.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding friending children or adding them to your social networks feel free to share in the comments area or contact us directly.