There's no doubt that the communication tool of choice for today's college student is social media and as a parent you may want to be a part of that world.
Many students have a Facebook page, Twitter account and even a YouTube channel. They are quick and efficient methods of communication and they are a tool that you can use to keep in touch as well. Of course, it is also important that your student is open to the idea of your using their social media site as many consider it to be a personal and private world they only share with peers. Be sure you ask beforehand and discuss how you will use it to stay connected.
Here are some important things to remember if you decide you're ready to communicate through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
1. Don't Butt In
In can be hard to just let that comment slide when your instinct wants to correct the behavior or misconception. Remember that conversations that are carried out on in this most public of forums can still be considered as private to the user. Know your boundaries and resist inserting yourself into conversations. This is especially important in romantic situations.
2. Butt In Privately
At the same time that you are practicing restraint it may be necessary for you to take action about a situation that is causing you concern. If you think they are spending too much time partying and not enough time studying, it would be best to bring this to their attention in a private chat or message. Imagine the embarrassment they could feel when mom comments on their 1 a.m. post admonishing them for staying up so late. If you're not careful, they may decide to change their privacy settings and lock you out.
3. Know Your Boundaries
Talk with your student about how comfortable they are with your participation in their social media interactions. Is it acceptable for you to comment on pictures that they post? Is it acceptable for you to post pictures to their wall? By setting those boundaries ahead of time you will avoid misunderstandings, embarrassment and the possible loss of this intimate form of long-distance communication that can be very valuable for gauging the emotional life of your student.
The most important thing to remember is that college is a big part of your student's road to independence. Avoid hovering and disciplining them in this forum. Respect their need for privacy and they will likely learn to enjoy the interactions that you will share while they are far from home.
College parents can find modern technology to be an asset as well as a frustration. With some patience and help from your student, you will soon be comfortable and appreciative with what social media of today has to offer.