11 Facebook No-Nos for Grandparents

Doing These Things Might Get You Unfriended, Even if You Are Family

grandparents using computer
Alina Solovyova-Vincent / Getty Images

Facebook has both pros and cons for grandparents. It makes staying connected with extended family a snap. It's simple enough that grandparents who are minimally tech-savvy can handle it. Still, there are hazards. When posting about your grandchildren, adhere to the parents' standards for sharing. Once you have teen grandchildren or young adult grandchildren with their own accounts, watch your online behavior even more closely. Whatever else you do, avoid the following 10 Facebook No-Nos.

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Posting Unflattering Photos

This is the worst Facebook offense in the eyes of grandchildren, and your adult children won't appreciate it either. Of course, your kids and grandkids are perfect specimens and all of your photos of them are masterworks, but they may not see it that way. Tagged parties can untag themselves, but if a hundred friends have already seen the photo, what's the point? One solution is to post but not tag. Those pictured can always tag themselves. If you have reservations about a photo, send it in an email or message to the person pictured and let that person make the call. Of course, you could also learn to take better pictures.

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Friending Their Friends

In many social conventions, older individuals are allowed to go first. In social media, the opposite is true. Don't send friend requests to your kids' or grandkids' friends. Let the younger parties take the initiative. Many young people don't like the idea of older eyes seeing everything that they post. In truth, you may be more comfortable with limited exposure to the younger generations' social media habits. And how many Facebook friends do you need, anyway?

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Jumping in on Conversations

Those who use Facebook but seldom post may be labeled lurkers, but there's something to be said for lurking. If your kids or grandkids are carrying on a conversation with their friends, don't leap in unless you have something really valuable to add. Especially in the case of grandchildren, your comments on their posts will reflect on them. If you make an inept or unfunny comment, their status will be diminished. I'm talking about real status, not the Facebook status box. The like button is usually a safe substitute. 

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Posting Too Much Information

Many grandparents have a lot of medical issues that may interest their peers, but trust me on this one. Your grandchildren do not want to see your medical details posted on Facebook. The only thing that will gross them out more than hearing about Grandpa's prostate or Grandma's colonoscopy is reading about their grandparents' romantic interludes. I know that romance is possible in the grandparenting set, and your grandchildren should know it, too. But posting on Facebook is not the way to tell them.

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Vaguebooking and Other Manipulative Posts

One thing I love about social media is watching it give birth to nifty new terms, like vaguebooking. That's the practice of making posts that are intentionally vague, usually hinting at some crisis. The purpose is to spark worried inquiries from Facebook friends. Pretty much everyone hates vaguebooking and, for that matter, any posts designed to garner attention. If you have a problem and need to talk to someone, or just need to vent, reach out and use the telephone.

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Playing Games With Your Profile Picture

Young and old frequently break this rule, but here's the deal. Your profile picture should be a picture of you. Even if you are super proud of a grandchild, don't use his or her picture as your profile photo. It's just strange to see a picture of a toddler alongside posts about going to retirement parties. You may not be as cute as your grandchildren, but own your profile with an authentic photo. If you don't have a flattering photo, visit a photography studio and have one taken. By the way, it's no fair posting one from twenty years ago, either. If you are one of those who likes to change your profile picture to show your support for a particular cause that's a slightly different matter.

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Getting Too Political

Political discussion serves a vital function in a democracy, but Facebook may not be the best place for it to take place. Overdoing the political posts on Facebook is a major cause of unfriending, and such posts are especially risky when you have political differences with family members. It's doubtful whether anyone's ever had a change of political opinion due to a Facebook post, but if you feel the need to post anyway, be sure that your post is civil and that it does not cast aspersions on those who might disagree. Also check the veracity of all political posts before passing them on. Another option is to control who sees your posts through setting up different groups on Facebook and selecting the appropriate audience for each post. Didn't know that you could do that? Maybe you need to learn more about how Facebook works.

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Allowing Auto Posts

The apps that you use on Facebook to play games or read news have an agenda. They want to spread the word that they are being used, in order to get more users. To this end most apps have a box that, when checked, will post notifications to your Facebook wall. The appearance of these auto-posts is a pet peeve of many FB users because they clog up the newsfeed and cause personal posts to be overlooked. It's up to you to keep that from happening. Diligently search out those little check boxes and uncheck them.

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Posting Personal Information

Posting personal information, no matter how innocuous-appearing, can expose posters and their friends and family to crime. For example, some despicable people have used bits of personal information gleaned from social media to run the grandparent scam. Also, burglars may target those whose posts indicate that they are not at home. The best rule is not to post information about where you've been until you're back. Is that confusing? Burglars will be confused, too.

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Doing the Copy and Paste Thing

We all get those posts on our walls, the ones that tell us to copy and paste if we want to fight cancer or bring awareness to bullying. You don't really have to copy and paste them. Even if you fully support the cause being promoted, it's okay just to leave those posts alone. Don't do it even when the poster tries to guilt you into it -- "most people won't share this." If you really want to do something to fight cancer or bullying, write your own original post or make a donation to the appropriate group. 

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Trying to Be Cool

Are there grandchildren who think that it's cool when grandparents use acronyms and other Facebook-ese? IDK but I'm fairly sure that most do not LOL. In fact, I think that most would prefer grandparents who talk, write and post like grandparents. That means not only avoiding textspeak but even using proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. You might be able to get by with an occasional humorous hashtag, though.