Savvy Auntie Social Media Etiquette
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
By Raquel Wildes
A Savvy Auntie knows where she should draw the line between being an authority figure and being friends with her niece or nephew. However, on social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, boundaries become shaky.
It is helpful to have a realistic sense of your relationship with your niece or nephew, and to establish boundaries, so as to avoid any awkward confrontations. It may be a good idea to speak with your niece or nephew about the different options before “friending” them on Facebook. This decision could define your relationship with your niece or nephew, and if you “friend” them out of the blue, then you are leaving the decision in their hands.
You probably want your niece or nephew to view you as a role model—someone they respect, and are comfortable approaching with questions and concerns—and not just as an older friend; finding this balance online is challenging. Different personalities call for different responses to both the above aspects of a relationship. Similarly, boundaries and limits differ among distinct relationships.
Maybe you are Facebook friends with your niece or nephew, but control what he or she has access to on your profile (and vise versa). Or maybe you are Facebook friends and frequent each other’s profile pages often; or, maybe you are not Facebook friends at all.
A Savvy Auntie knows not to be offended if her niece or nephew does not accept the friend request or limits accessibility to his or her profile page. Most teens use Facebook as a social network to stay in contact with their different peer groups (classmates, camp friends, teammates, etc.), and to keep in the swing of things.
In a recent New York Times article, Pediatrician Dr. Perri Klass said, “Our children are using social media to accomplish the eternal goals of adolescent development, which include socializing with peers, investigating the world, trying on identities and establishing independence.”
Many teens also choose to use Facebook as a bragging forum: they post pictures of their latest travels, new pets, and birthday parties. If you feel the need to brag about your niece or nephew, then Savvy Auntie is the perfect place to do so (without infringing on your teen’s privacy!).
Even though you might want to become Facebook friends with your niece or nephew as a means of extending your relationship beyond familial matters, your teen might not feel a Facebook friendship with his aunt is appropriate.
Using Facebook to monitor your niece or nephews online behavior might be overstepping your authority as an Auntie, but should you discover anything inappropriate or suspicious on his or her Facebook profile page, you need to determine whether to approach your niece or nephew directly or go to his or her parents first.
Published: January 14, 2012