Social Media Moms

To Friend Or Not To Friend Your Child On Facebook

2 Comments 07 February 2011

I remember when I was half-way through college, Facebook’s popularity exploded, seemingly overnight, and it became the latest “it” thing among news networks and businesses alike. What used to be only the vanguard of predominately college students caught the public’s attention, and all of a sudden I started getting friend requests from my friend’s parents as well as my own. At first, I was shocked. I didn’t even know my mother knew how to turn on a computer, much less create a profile page.

Quickly, the idea of Facebook being a social media space shared by real adults and students alike was a hot topic of conversation on campus. Some of my friends ignored parents and relatives friend requests, while others limited their profile to expose only part of their online persona. While I was excited to see my parents getting on the social media bandwagon, some of my peers thought it was weird.

Of course, at this point in social media’s evolution, adults establishing profiles on social media sites is no longer an anomaly; it has become the norm. I still, however, have friends who are hesitant to add parents and other adults as friends, or who spend quite a bit of time deciding what parts of their profiles adults should have access to. When parents are denied access to their children’s profiles, or when they are put on limited, many parents are angry, frustrated, and may they feel a bit insulted or mystified. Why would my child do this to me? many parents wonder. This hesitation in granting access to parents brings with it some interesting observations about the role of social media in general.

When we tailor our identities online, we are behaving in much the same way that we do in the real world-we act in very specific ways when we are with different groups of people and in different social situations. For example, a high school student may address a peer as dude, but would never address an adult as such. These different modes of social interaction are complicated online because social networking profiles open up vast spaces in which we cannot as easily shift our personas when interacting with different groups of people. This is why I suspect that many kids are hesitant to add their parents or other adults. It’s not necessarily because a child has something to hide. Rather, it’s because of an inherent discomfort with having the same level of exposure and interaction with every person she or he grants profile access to. The only choice, then, in order to imitate social interaction that occurs in the real world, is to deny access completely, or to use privacy tools to tailor the experience.

Of course, parents who have younger children using social media should certainly be monitoring their child’s activity, in which case a parent being friends with their children on Facebook makes more sense. However, for parents of older adults, there’s a little more room for debate. What do you think? Should parents add older children on Facebook? If so, should they be obligated to accept? Are parents justified in feeling hurt or distraught if they are granted limited access to their child’s online identity?


This guest contribution was submitted by Kitty Holman, who specializes in writing about nursing colleges. Questions and comments can be sent to:

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