65% of grandparents use Facebook—the same rate as the rest of the population. Clearly, the image of the teenager having to help his grandmother set up a Facebook account is outdated. Even the great-grandparents are on social media now.
There’s a good reason: Social media is a convenient and powerful way to stay in touch with family and friends. For grandparents, it’s also a bridge between generations. You may not be on the scene for all the milestones of your new grandbaby’s life, but if mom or dad is posting updates on Facebook, you’ll see them almost as they happen. You may not get regular phone calls from your granddaughter, but if she lets you follow her on Instagram, you’ll get a carefully curated glimpse into her life.
These interactions can strengthen your relationships. Knowing what is going on in your family’s world helps spark conversation. It also allows you to offer support when they may need it, without them having to ask. This is especially valuable when your grandchildren are teenagers and young adults, but it’s important to know how to navigate the intricacies of social media etiquette. Even making or accepting a friend request can be a landmine!
How to Keep from Embarrassing Your Grandchildren on Social Media
Hopefully, you’ve already read our 6 Tips to Protecting Your Grandchildren on Social Media. They are the vital first steps, and if you haven’t gotten them yet, I urge you to download them now. But here are some things your grandchildren would like you to remember when you use social media to connect with them directly:
One last word of advice: Eventually, your children or grandchildren will post something that raises your eyebrows or makes your stomach clench, like a selfie in a scanty bikini or a photo of underage drinking. Resist the urge to comment—either online or off. As a rule of thumb, ask yourself if you would have known about the incident or behavior if you hadn’t seen it on social media. If the answer is no, just take a deep breath, press your lips together, and sit on your hands until the impulse to comment passes.