Parent groups on social networks, especially WhatsApp, are a tool that is as useful as it is dangerous. Useful because it allows you to keep up to date with what is happening in the classroom. Dangerous because it can lead to misunderstandings, discussions, and unnecessary use.
No parent can escape. With the start of the school year comes that delicate moment when someone asks you for your phone number “to join the parents’ group”. And you, who don’t want to miss out on any of your child’s education or appear to be the least sociable of the parents, dictate it to them and make sure you are already in “the group”.
The vast majority of families with children between the ages of 1 and 12 are part of chat groups at nursery school, school, after-school activities, soccer team… A lot of daily communications can drain the battery of the toughest cell phone and the patience of the calmest adult if they are not used correctly.
What is the WhatsApp parent group for?
The theoretical purpose of this type of chats is to facilitate the daily organization of parents, to enable them to have a quick communication channel to keep abreast of everything that has to do with their children: if they have a math test, if they should bring this or that cardboard for the costume, if there is a lice epidemic at school…
The problem arises when there are members of the group who make inappropriate use of the group or when it ends up becoming a way for children not to take responsibility for their homework. Parent groups have not been developed with the objective of sending personal information to the group, generating rumors or producing a bombardment of images or messages that end up saturating the group.
Keys for correct use of WhatsApp groups
Always keep in mind that the group has been created to share information strictly related to the educational, school or sports environment (depending on the group) is essential to avoid problems. Also, keep these tips in mind.
1. Information, yes; gossip, no.
Before sending a message, make sure it is relevant information for all the members of the group. If you hear that a caveman costume is going to be made for Carnival, it’s helpful to share it. If you find out that your child got this or that grade or send pictures of your work, it is not.
2. Don’t use it as a diary
“Mom, I can’t remember what math homework I had.” Quickly and swiftly you go to your “parents’ group” to ask and you automatically receive 10 answers not only with the math exercises to do, but also with the language, science, and English exercises, and if you are careless, even with the solutions.
No, no and no. Most schools give your child an agenda at the beginning of the school year where he/she should write down his/her homework, exam dates and assignments. If your child has not received one, buy one. It’s no problem if one day they get lost and you have to ask other parents for homework. Making it a routine is a dangerous practice that will keep your child from taking responsibility and maturing.
3. Don’t be the group’s annoying one
Viral photos, jokes, fake help chains, emojis all the time… Do you really want to be the “heavy parent” of the group? If you are there to give information about the children, limit yourself to that.
4. Certain conversations, in private
Conversations between two people should only be done in private. How many times have you had to read 40 messages written by only two people? Haven’t you felt like asking them to start a private chat? Don’t make the same mistake.
5. Watch out for criticism
The main premise of using social networks is not to say anything on them that you wouldn’t say in person. Any message can be misinterpreted depending on the person who reads it and certain topics can be especially controversial: no messing with the teacher, criticizing her or trying to solve quarrels between children through WhatsApp.
6. Set an example
We live in a society in which many children are hooked to cell phones, tablets, or video games. How are we going to teach their parents to detach from them if we do not let go of the phone? Disconnecting from the routine is a fundamental part of day-to-day life and key to achieving a good family environment.
Establish your own rules regarding the use of the group. A good idea is not to answer their messages after eight o’clock in the evening (when the children should have finished all their homework) or on weekends.
Write what you want to share in a single, clear, and concise message, and make sure before sending that all the information is correct. This will prevent you from being bombarded with questions.
8. Respect everyone’s privacy
In the photos or videos you share, even if they are of children’s activities, you must make sure that all parents have given their consent to send them, and be careful about uploading them to other social networks.