Stanford Teach Parents How to Get a Clue

Stanford offers new how to Facebook course

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    That could be your mom eating a grilled cheese, Facebooking and talking to someone else on the phone, since she can now just write on your wall.

    Your parents can finally be hip and stay in touch with to boot. And the best part is you don't have to do anything but send them an email, or if they can't do that simply let them know.

    A new course that begins next week at Stanford University aims to  bring parents into the relatively unfamiliar realm of social networking sites in order to make them more aware of what their kids are up to online. After it is said and done they can poke away and check out all your latest pics and even tag you in a note or two.

    The four-part course, titled "Facebook for Parents," is being  co-taught by BJ Fogg, associate professor at Stanford and the author of "The  Psychology of Facebook," and his sister Linda Phillips, whose background is  business and marketing.

    The three main objectives of the class, Phillips explained, are to  keep kids safe online, help parents monitor the information their children  reveal online, and teach parents that social networking sites can actually  help their kids learn important life skills.

    The hands-on classes, Phillips said, will offer a starting point  for parents unfamiliar with the format of social networking sites.

    Parents will be taught how to create their own Facebook pages,  send "friend requests" to their kids, review the content on their pages, view  who their kids are friends with, and monitor their kids' activities in the  site's "News Feed" feature.

    Phillips, who has eight children who range in age from 10 to 25,  said she is "friends" with all seven of her kids on Facebook and said the  site has helped her become familiar with her children's friends.

    "This is responsible parenting, knowing who their friends are and  who is involved in their life," Phillips said. "We're ineffective as parents  if we are naive and ignorant."

    Phillips said she has received mixed reactions to the idea of  parents joining Facebook.

    One young adult initially complained that she felt like her mother  only intended to spy on her, but her attitude changed when she realized that  her mother just wanted to be involved in her life, Phillips said.

    Phillips said that when parents go online, many teens and young  adults initially feel their space is being invaded -- especially at an age  when they crave autonomy and independence.

    This is something for parents to keep in mind, she said, and to be  careful and respectful of the idea that their kids have a life separate from  their families.

    Parents should simply use the site as an opportunity to establish  rapport and trust with their children, Phillips said.

    "Social networking is not going away. It is important that parents  understand that and get up to speed," Phillips said.

    The "Facebook for Parents" course is free and open to all  parents. The course begins on Feb. 19 and runs through April 2. More  information about the course is on a Web site called Face Book for Parents. You might have to load the page for them.