Does Your Teen Have Too Many Facebook Friends?

Mashable has a story out this week titled “7 Social Media Resolutions for 2015”. The piece is aimed at busy adults, but one of the resolutions is something that parents should be discussing with teens who are active on social media.

4. Clean out your Facebook friends list.

teen-facebook-friends
Source: Pew Internet Research

This is good advice any time of year for teens, not just as a New Year’s resolution, and goes not only for Facebook but also for other social networks with a “friends” or “followers” structure such as Twitter and Instagram. Why is it a good idea to do a cleanup? There is one big reason, and lots of smaller ones.

The big one – they have access – If your social media accounts are private, the only people who can see and interact with your posts, pictures and videos are your friends, unless one of your friends publicly reposts your stuff. If your account is public, anyone can see your posts, but your friends are the only ones who can privately message you. What it all boils down to is if you’re a victim of cyberbullying or harassment on social media and your accounts are private, one of your friends is doing the cyberbullying. To defend against this, it is a great idea to only have real friends on your friends list.

The smaller reasons to slim down your friends list:

They might not have been “friends” in the first place – We’ve written before of the idea of some teens being Facebook Friend Collectors, and somehow equating a large number of followers with a measure of popularity. That is not great for self esteem, and may indicate that a teen has been going out of his way to attract followers. If that has changed, by all means clean it up.

Your friends have changed – Just because you were friends back then doesn’t mean that you are now. You can keep the email address or phone number for future reference, but there’s no reason to keep their posts in your feed.

You have changed – If your lifestyle or choices have changed, there is no reason to keep dragging old online acquaintances with you.

They might reflect badly on you – If you have friends who are constantly posting party pictures or using foul language, that could reflect badly on you, especially if your are tagged in pictures or your friend’s communications are directed at you.

Time – When most people open a social media app, they aren’t looking for something specific, they’re just looking. The more non-friends whose content is in your feed, the bigger a time suck it will be.

Social media can be fun and engaging, but there are dozens of ways that it can make teens’ lives miserable. By keep friend lists manageable, teens stand the best chance of keeping their online experience positive.

 

 

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