Don't Talk to Strangers
When I was a child, the word "friend" was a noun and referred to a few close acquaintances in my neighborhood and at school.
In our social networking lives today, a friend can be practically anyone... and now you don't have to know a friend to have a friend. This new difference is important when speaking with children and teens. In short, "friend" is a verb when speaking of Facebook and other social networks.
A majority of teens and tweens will friend most people on social networks. They will friend their friends, of course. They will friend people who know their friends, i.e., friends of friends.
Taking this concept further, kids will friend someone they met just once. They will friend a boy at school they have never met and say, "But hey, he goes to my school!"
Tweens and teens will friend the parents and siblings of their friends. Sometimes, they friend teachers and coaches. They will even friend an adult that "looks nice on-screen" because their friend did. In essence, kids today are capable of being a friend with someone they don't really know. Does that alarm you as a parent?
In my day, we used to refer to a person we didn't know as a "stranger." And my mom taught me never to speak with strangers. In one dictionary I checked, the word "stranger" is defined as a "person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar."
Thus, the concept of "friend" is different now because of social networking. At the same time, the concept of "stranger" is different too -- and the original definition seems to be lost.
So beware mom and dad, if you tell a child not to speak with strangers, well...the definition of stranger no longer means someone you don't know. On Facebook, those "whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar" are now called friends..