Some days kids just don't want to head off to school in the morning. Such was the case one day with Beth Blecherman's 13-year-old son. He wished he were somewhere else, and she knew that.
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When he returned home after putting in his best effort in school, he did what he usually does; checked his Facebook account. One post in particular stood out among the rest.
"Feeling proud of my son for working hard today at school," his mom wrote on her wall.
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When Blecherman updated her status, she did it intentionally. Knowing that her son would see it -- they are friends on Facebook -- the words were meant to encourage. Her son "liked" the update, then so did the boy's grandparents.
"Way to go," his grandmother wrote. "Hard work at school provides many rewards, gifts and surprises!" his grandfather posted.
"In posting that, the whole family can get behind my son just on Facebook," says Blecherman, founder and editor-in-chief of Techmamas. "They can get behind that moment through supporting a child on Facebook," she tells Mashable.
Facebook hit a milestone this week; it reached one billion active users. The social networking giant has become an important part of the way its users stay connected; whether it's finding lost friends, keeping in touch with school buddies, or helping families stay connected.
Many parents, like Blecherman, are using Facebook to not only shorten the distance between family members but to keep a watchful eye as well. And many experts agree this is a good thing to do.
"I think it's great for a parent to insist on being friends for pure monitoring abilities," Dr. Jerry Weichman a clinical psychologist and adolescent specialist told Mashable.
One concern Weichman has is the sometimes invasive nature of parents' posts and comments. Though he agreed that parents should monitor their child's Facebook for illicit behaviors, he points out parents can sometimes go overboard and intrude on their child's life. This impacts the relationship by pushing the child further away.
"It could be embarrassing for the kids," he said. "Parents need to be cognizant of that, of how they're being seen by their peer group."
If a parent is too invasive, it may push the child to create a profile they only update to keep parents away from their real profile, Weichman says. It's a matter of trust when kids let parents into their social networks.
"If your kids are agreeable to it, take advantage of it," Weichman said. "You're supposed to be the flies on the wall. Flies don't speak."
Some families seem to have worked those issues out. Donna Mills, a blogger at SoCalMom.net, says she hasn't had any issues with interacting with her 16-year-old daughter through Facebook.
"I was on Facebook before she was so we're pretty social media literate in this house," she told Mashable.
Every now and again they'll tag one another in a post or share something they think the other will like. They say they've found a happy medium.
"When she first got on there I was nervous and I would check all the time," she said, "but I don't do a lot of that any more."
Does Facebook help you communicate with your family members? Has it changed the way you keep in touch? Let us know in the comments.
Image courtesy of adactio
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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