OK, the title is a little over-dramatic, but it got your attention… Class, today's lesson is on Friend Lists in Facebook…
So your kid's getting older, starting to become more independent, and is generally embarrassed by your presence. (If he's not embarrassed by you, are you really doing your job?) You want to keep an eye on what he's up to online, despite his reluctance to let you see everything in his world… Being connected to him on Facebook has the same allure of you yelling out "Hi sweetie!" to him at the bus stop, But there is a middle ground where you can be connected while still giving him a semblance of freedom, and that is done by Facebook Lists.
Scenario 1: your kid is an active Facebook user, but between all the updates from Farmville, Sorority Life and Mafia Wars, you barely see what's happening in her real life. (Don't know what Farmville is? Count your blessings!)
Scenario 2: the kid just went off to college, and he feels really awkward when he knows you're seeing Wall updates about the big party at the Lacrosse House.
Scenario 3: you just found a shoebox full of baby pictures of your darling little offspring, and you want to share them with the world. However doing so would result in your child experiencing a state of embarrassment not seen since you screamed his name at the middle school awards banquet.
So how do you handle these situations? With a Friend list! This is simply a subset of your friends, grouped by a common theme that you choose.
In Scenario 1, where you want to rid yourself of Farmville crops: Have your kid set up a Friend List called 'Games', or something like that, and have her put all the friends who care about that nonsense in there. Then when she makes updates, she can choose to only have that friend list be notified.
For Scenario 2, where you're being blocked out completely because the college kid doesn't want to share too much; have him set up a Friend List called 'Family', and put all the relatives in there. Then when he has something appropriate to share ('have a job interview tomorrow'), the you can get that update, while the other stuff ('exhausted from being out 'til 4:30 in the morning') can stay on campus.
And in Scenario 3, where you are dying to get those baby pictures on line, this time it's you who should create the 'Family' friend list. When you create the photo album, make it available only to Family, so his other classmates won't get that shot of him sitting on the potty at age 2.
Facebook Help goes through this in detail, but it's pretty simple:
Select the "Friends" menu item on the left, and on the Friends page, you will see a button named "Create a List".
Now when you post updates, click on the little padlock icon beside the Share button, and select "Customize". From here you can either share this posting with a subset of your friends, by selecting the appropriate list.
Using Friend Lists will let you (and your kids) get the most out of Facebook. Don't be afraid to customize Facebook to fit your needs!
Other ideas on how to use Lists to your advantage? Let's hear about them in the comments!