Mom and Dad Still May Want to Be Your Facebook Friend

FacebookSome journalists are apparently finding it hard to interview Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Maybe it is because they aren't geeky enough. Or, maybe some journalists just don't get Facebook or maybe there is nothing to get. Maybe Facebook is just another social network like the thousands of others out there. It just happens to be more popular. What journalists need to do sometimes is recycle old questions and old stories like this one from the Washington Post. Just because we have heard all the questions before doesn't mean they aren't still relevant. Let us recycle all the questions from MySpace's past and apply them to Facebook. Are parents joining to follow their kids? What is Facebook doing about predators? Are young people flocking away from Facebook to join other social networks?

The Washington Post got us started by bringing back the parents following their children on the social network story. Parents are apparently tired of the mystery and so many are trying to find out what their kids are up to on Facebook. The Washington Post reports that some teens and young adults are shocked to find their mom or dad trying to "friend" them on Facebook. Some are even finding their Mom or Dad friending their friends.
Across the country, Facebook users are contemplating similar questions when they log onto their accounts. More and more moms and dads are signing onto Facebook to keep up with their offspring. Not only are they friending (or attempting to friend) their sons and daughters, they're friending their sons' and daughters' friends.

Some, like Matt, take the requests in stride. He ultimately friended his dad. Others are less sanguine, voicing their dismay via online groups that decry parental intrusion and offer tips on how to screen out mom and dad. ("Just go onto their computers and delete their accounts." "Just don't add them as a friend or any1 that is a co-worker with ur parents duh.") Even parenting experts are getting involved, offering their own tips on proper Facebook etiquette.

"I do not know if this has happened to anybody, but this morning I log on to Facebook and I have a new friend request!" wrote 19-year-old Mike Yeamans, a sophomore at James Madison University, on one of several "No Parents on Facebook" groups that have popped up on the site. "I am excited to make a new friend so I click on the link. I could not believe what I saw. My father! This is an outrage!"
Some might argue that this means Facebook has jumped the shark. They might be right. If someday in the near future young people start complaining that their parents are following them on Twitter it could mean that many twittering teens are about to relocate. However, these same types of stories popped up a couple years ago with parents becoming the MySpace friends of their children. We've seen this all before. We've even seen this story before with Facebook and parents. Last June the New York Times ran a story called "omg my mom joined facebook!!" Today, MySpace is still going strong although one could argue that some of the younger people have gone elsewhere. Facebook seems to be holding onto its young users. Most 20-somethings can probably deal with the idea of parents on Facebook but parental intrusion might discourage some of the younger Facebook users who just aren't interested in having their parents as Facebook friends.

Posted on March 9, 2008

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