Social media is a good way to keep up with our grandchildren’s activities. However, there are some rules which, if broken by a grandparent, can cause unnecessary angst and even serious offence to our grandchildren.
Facebook is all about our grandchildren looking good as seen through their eyes and the eyes of their friends.
The golden rule for grandparents is to be our grandchild's ally. Helping to present them well to their world in the way they wish to be seen.
The tips below are all examples of this golden rule, because it's not about how we feel, it's about how our grandchild will feel.
Ask before posting or tagging your grandchild
While your grandchildren are young, it's best to leave the posting of their photos to their parents. When they are older, your grandchild will appreciate your discretion and thoughtfulness in checking with them prior to posting.
Be conscious of their preferred posting style
Some like to show every detail and others are very selective about what they post, depending on the way they wish to be 'seen' online.
Best not to post on your grandchild's wall
Unless they say it's okay to do so, private messages are usually better received.
We need to act our age
Most grandchildren are embarrassed by grandparents who try to ape the grandchild's expressions, such as LOL (an acronym for 'laugh out loud'). If we do post, we need to write as our generation normally speaks, with correct spelling and punctuation. Our grandchildren like to see us as something of a role model for our generation.
Don’t send friend requests to their friends
Some friends of our grandchildren may prefer to think that their elders don't see all they post on Facebook, so we shouldn't send friend requests to our grandchildren's friends. It's up to the children to take the initiative here. It's the same with liking or adding to friends' comments too.
We need to stay out of their conversations
It's okay for grandparents to be spectators (or lurkers as we are called) on Facebook. Comments on their posts may diminish our grandchildren in the eyes of their friends. If you do join in the conversation, remember that all of their friends will see the comment.
It's good to like our grandchild's photos
But don’t like all thirty of them. It’s best to be selective and pick out three or four which most appeal.
Avoid sensitive topics
These include our or their health issues, romantic history or politics.
Don't allow auto posts
Many of the apps available on Facebook, such as games, will automatically post notifications to your Facebook wall. These auto posts annoy not only our grandchildren, but everyone, by clogging up news feeds and causing personal posts to be swamped away. You can carefully find the little check boxes in the apps and untick them.
Be careful posting on the family's whereabouts
For example, posting that we are taking our grandchildren on an extended family holiday to Bali for our 60th birthday may be an invitation for a home burglary or could expose them to crime.
Having to see the world through our grandchildren's eyes will keep us focussed on what really matters to us - our family and what's going on in the wider world.
Gabrielle Leahy, Retire & Flourish