CyberSafe and Savvy Tip 22: To Friend or Not To Friend

How many Facebook Friends do you have? How do you decided “to Friend” someone, or to accept a “Friend” request?

A few months ago, I recently received a chilling email from someone I met at a conference retelling a real life event that happenend to one of her Facebook Friends. She logged on one day and noticed this Friend, someone she knew from long ago, had posted “Good Bye, everyone. I’ve had enough.” Remembering similar stories where people posted on Facebook and no one did a thing, she decided to reach out and see if she could prevent what appeared to be a real cry for help. “WTF??”, she posted. Others followed and what happend from there was a quick banding together of people who were real friends of this person who were able to call and make sure this “Friend” was ok.

This story sent a chill from my head to my toes. How many stories have we all read about that didn’t end so well?

This one story got me thinking about my online and offline “Friends”. Thinking of my own online experience, there is zero rhyme or reason to why people respond to posts online, including my own. One day someone’s query about something of importance may yield zero response while the next a post about something relatively silly may yield an almost endless stream of posts.

One thing is clear. The only people we can truly count on are our real friends – those we know we have a connection to. That’s a challenging message to teach our kids but that’s the one that we have to somehow emphasize.

Sure, it’s great to have a ton of online “friends”, but it’s our real friends, the ones we see offline and know who will be there to help us through the bad times and celebrate the good times that we have to embrace.

So, how do help our kids “friend” wisely online?  I used to tell people to only “Friend” people on Facebook and sites like that who you’d have dinner with. Now, I tell people this: “Friend” people you’d reach out to in a crisis and know would reach out for you, on or offline.

It’s great to say you have many “Friends” but I’d rather have friends. How about you?

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