According to her kids, Linda Fogg Phillips spends too much time on Facebook. She does it so you don't have to. She also does it because she's driven to help parents get comfortable using the popular social networking website to strengthen families.
Phillips, along with her brother, Stanford University Persuasive Technology Lab director B.J. Fogg, wrote "Facebook for Parents: Answers to the top 25 Questions," published by Captology Media. It sells for $24.95.
The book is a must-read for anyone using Facebook, as many of the tips and suggestions apply to everyone with a friends list.
"As parents, we need to be at the crossroads of our children's lives," said Phillips, a Las Vegas mother of eight. "We must be present in their virtual world as well. This is where parents need to be."
Six of her children still live at home, which Phillips uses as a living laboratory for Facebook parenting.
She said many parents believe Facebook is a private spot for their children to interact with others. But she disagrees.
"Facebook is not a private bedroom," she said. "The best metaphor for Facebook is your front lawn. That is a huge 'ah-ah.' Kids sometimes don't even view it that way."
"We need to realize that Facebook is one of the most powerful learning tools for parenting," she said. "It's the power tool for parenting."
Phillips stops short of telling parents exactly how they should enforce rules for using the Internet. What works for one family may not be the best approach for another.
"You should consciously set a 'friending' policy and outline what it is," she said.
In her family Phillips' younger children can friend only people she knows.
"Relatives are no problem, along with friends we know in common and have met face-to-face," she said. "With my older children I extend that a bit more. They can friend kids from school that I don't know, but can't friend 'friends of friends' we don't know."
Phillips said she only friends people she knows.
People setting up a Facebook account for their business will likely take a different approach from their personal account.
"You need to ask yourself, 'Why am I using this medium?'"
Phillips said Facebook users should pay close attention to their privacy settings.
"At the time we taught a class at Stanford there were 16 spots to change privacy settings," Phillips said. "Today there are 44."
I recommend everyone follow Phillips on Twitter @FB4Parents and sign up for her newsletter at (www.facebookforparents.org)
She also invites questions and feedback by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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