I’ve been running online communities for a lot of years. In that time, I’ve learned and noticed some things about how to be a good “online citizen” or Facebook group member.
While these “rules” apply to anyone online, I find they especially apply to parenting groups, where members are often sleep-deprived, struggling or questioning their competence.
Sure, you may know a lot about a topic. But, you don’t know every single person’s unique situation, values or beliefs. So, being helpful and tentative in your responses will ensure you don’t across as someone who prioritizes “information sharing” over you know, actually being supportive.
Don’t you hate it in real life when you’re just trying vent about something and your friend or partner keeps offering suggestions or advice? Sometimes we just need a kind, warm listening ear and someone to say, “Hang in there” or “You got this, mama”. If you think the person might want some advice, try asking, “Would you be open to some advice?”.
This is when you see a post (usually on a controversial or sensitive topic) and quickly jump on to give a 3-5 word response (and usually without reading the other comments on the post). Some examples include “Sleep is developmental”, “I would never do that” or “That sounds normal to me”. These may all be true, but the WAY you say something can really impact HOW the person hears your advice or response…so if you don’t have the time to give a thoughtful response, probably best not to leave one at all.
“Your words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world and the world around us” – Lidia Fredrico. Enough said?
Even in the most private, “safest” places online, unsavoury characters can screenshot your posts and share them far and wide. Before you post, ask yourself IF this were to get out there, would it do irreparable harm to me or to someone I know?
It’s easy to hide behind your phone or screen and write things online that you wouldn’t say in real life. But being an integral person means doing the right thing even when no one’s watching (and this includes online)!.
It’s so easy to share links after simply reading the headline but this is a great way to propagate false information! Before you share something (ESPECIALLY if that something is controversial or gets you really upset/excited), check to see if your source is credible. Is the website credible? Does the writer link to primary sources (e.g., peer-reviewed scholarly articles)? What do sites like Snopes say about this?
Yep, the golden rule applies online too! Imagine if we all did this? What a wonderful place the internet would be!
Looking for a parenting Facebook group where we actually try to foster a community of good online citizens? Join here:
How to be a Good Facebook Group Member (and Online Citizen)
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