My comments on this topic
This article describes how the social-networking site is existing in the context of keeping the family in touch. A common but obvious application may be a teenager who is travelling overseas during “gap year” or a child who is on an exchange-student placement or similar program wanting to keep “home” up to date with whatever is going on during their travels.
Similarly, some users use these services as another tool to keep in touch with long-distance relatives and friends. This can help in reducing the number of long-distance phone calls needed to keep in regular touch.
The article talked of the possibility of parents doing something embarrassing on the teenager’s Facebook or MySpace page such as putting up embarrassing photos best reserved for the 21st or making embarrassing comments about the child’s status updates or photos, which could lead to parents and teenagers not establishing the electronic friendships that are part of the social networking service. It talked of adopting a “look but don’t touch” attitude to these pages and only commenting if you have something witty to say for example. If you do need to contact them directly, use the social-networking service’s direct-messaging function or, if they are online, use the text chat function. These techniques can also be used to set up a VoIP chat session using Skype, Windows Live Messenger or Yahoo Messenger.
Other key factors that I have observed is the technological confidence barrier that exists between the young and the old, especially those didn’t experience computer technology in their younger lifetime. This is often exacerbated through fears of privacy abuse, the shock of others knowing your wider circle of friends and relatives amongst other things when using a social-network site.
Similarly, some of these social networks are now partnering with most application and content-delivery platforms to provide a direct interface to electronic picture frames, smartphones / PDAs, set-top boxes and similar devices. This may be in the form of a “widget” or server-updated slide; direct-link to a suitably-sized Web front; or a client-side application; and can allow a summary view of what is going on with Facebook from these devices. Some of the applications may allow a quick update or photo upload from the device’s user interface. These can be useful for monitoring what is going on with your family at all times without needing to visit the desktop or laptop computer regularly.
Once you can understand what the social network site is all about, you can then use it as another tool for keeping your family circle together.