Facebook Inadvertently redefined the word “Friend” over the past 15 years. As Parents, we tend to think of online Friendship in terms of Facebook. It’s important to realise that Children receive Friend requests from many different sources these days. They receive them through mainstream Social Media, Messaging platforms, but also through games.
I recently set up an account for my 10-year-old daughter on a game called Roblox, a game enjoyed by millions around the world. Within 10 days my daughters account received over 200 Friend requests from other games players and a similar number of direct messages. Children are bombarded with Chat and Friending through online gaming.
Teach your Child:
- It’s OK to say No to a Friend request – It’s no being impolite.
- If you don’t know that person in the Real World – how could they be your Friend? They are not your Friend.
- Many gaming sites suggest new Friends. Friends of Friends, rather like Facebook.
I use the catchphrase “A Friend of a Friend is not your Friend”
- Girls in particular see online Friends and Followers as a popularity contest. It’s about accumulating as many Friends and Followers as possible to appear cool in front of their real Friends. Watch for that behaviour with girls particularly.
Pre-empt it by having a real conversation with your child. Set agreed boundaries with your child around online friending and have consequences if the rules are broken.
- BLOCK a persistent request from someone you don’t know, but encourage your child to SCREEN SHOT first – them BLOCK. The sequence is important as some platforms remove the details of the contact or message when you BLOCK.