According to USA Today, sixty-two percent of all US homes had internet access in 2009. This number is expected to continue to rise. I come from a large extended family, having eleven cousins and five aunts in seven states scattered throughout the US. We have never all been together in the same place since I was born, 31 years ago. However, due to the wonders of technology, we now have an ongoing, constant ‘virtual family reunion’ happening on Facebook every day!
Even the least tech-savvy of us can easily navigate Facebook to catch up on family news, photos, and memories. All you need is internet access in order to make a free profile and join in. You can make a profile that no one else can see but your family. You can even use a nickname if you want, so no one but the family knows your online identity. There are detailed instructions on the web here about how to set up a basic Facebook profile.
In my family, I was the one to set up the family page. This is very easy to do. Once you are on the home page of Facebook and are logged in, you will see your news feed. Look down the options on your left-hand side. Click on groups. A new list of your groups (if any) will populate in the middle where your news feed used to be. There is a button there for ‘create group’.
The website will walk you through step by step on creating a group. You really can’t go wrong except in one place. When it comes to the question of “what kind of group is this”, it’s usually a good idea to label it as private. You can then invite all of your family members individually, and no one else can nose around in the group. As some discussions on a family page may get heated or very personal in nature, private is best. Also, marking it private makes it so that it will be invisible to spouses, kids, and other friends. No one but the members will know it exists unless a member tells them so.
To get back to the family group at any time, you can either find it under the same groups heading you used to create it or use the search bar at the top of the Facebook page. This was confusing to some of the older members, so make the group name simple, such as “The Family”. They can type that into the search bar and Facebook will pop the group up as a suggestion. With one click, they’re at the family page and participating!
By default, all members can upload photos to the group, start discussions, and post to the family wall. In my family, I made everyone an administrator so they could change anything about the page they like. In more contentious families, perhaps only two or three would be better. Always make sure you have at least two administrators in case one person’s profile is hacked. Remember, a private group is locked down, so only another administrator can let you in if your profile is hacked and you have to make another one!
By using the wonders of technology, cousins I had long lost track of are now a daily presence in my life. We share lots of photos, remember good times and bad, and share as much information about genetics, parenting, and family issues as we can. Facebook is a completely free service, so start your virtual family reunion today!