“While you’re under my roof, you’ll abide by my rules,” is a well-known and much hated parental mantra, but kids are fighting back with their own brand of assertiveness – by ignoring their parents’ Facebook requests.
Face it, parents, your kids just don’t want to be your Facebook friend, and there’s research to prove it.
A survey by Kaplan Test Prep which ran from June through December of 2010 and polled 2,300 teens found that 35% of kids have managed to avoid adding the oldies as contacts on the popular social networking site.
And who can blame them? With revealing status updates, pictures and pokes publicly on display, why risk being grounded, or worse, sent to your room without dessert?
It’s awkward enough for teens and tweens bringing friends home, only for them to have to undergo a veritable Spanish Inquisition, never mind having your mother comment “who is that semi naked boy and what is he drinking, I hope it’s orange soda?” under your crazy party pics from last weekend.
And god forbid a kid should update their relationship status. That’s a whole can of parental worms, right there.
But Kristen Campbell, executive director for college prep programs at the Kaplan Test Prep says parents shouldn’t necessarily feel slighted and hurt if their darling kiddos give them the Facebook cold shoulder, as long as it’s the only place they’re being shut out of.
“Although for generations high school students have come to accept and even embrace their parents’ involvement in their academic work and the college admissions process, Facebook continues to be the new frontier in the ever evolving relationship between parent and child,” she says.
“When a teen ignores a parent’s friend request, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are hiding something, but it could mean that this is one particular part of their life where they want to exert their independence.”
Alternatively, Campbell explains “some parents and their children may actually mutually decide to keep their Facebook lives private from one another.”
Good kids still need a place to vent and have their own space, after all. Of course, child safety advocates vehemently disagree with this notion, and actively encourage parents to spy on their kids “for their own good.”
This outdated, nanny cam thing is brushed off by Facebook, however, which instead prefers to offer concerned parents some rather sensible advice at its Safety Center.
“Facebook takes safety very seriously and strives to create an environment where everyone can connect and share comfortably,” says the site, which has resources for parents, teens, educators and law enforcement.
The social network allows anyone over the age of 13 to have an authorized account and is firm in its decision not to grant access to parents or anyone else wanting to snoop around and spy on a person who isn’t listed as their friend.
“Facebook appreciates all parents’ concern for their teenagers,” the site insists, but goes on to encourage parents to talk to their children openly and teach them about Internet safety. It explains about never sharing passwords, how to block people, how to report people and how to restrict their privacy settings.
After all, there isn’t much more a concerned parent can do anyway. According to the survey, of the 35% of kids who haven’t succumbed to parental friendship on FB, a reassuring 82% say their folks are either “very involved” (44%) or “somewhat involved” (38%) in their academic lives.
Also, a sad 16% who are friends with their parents on Facebook are forced to be as a pre-condition for being allowed to have a profile in the first place.
Back in May, a previous version of the Kaplan Test Prep survey polled 973 high school students and found that of the teens who did have their parents as friends, only 56% had given their parents full access to their page, while 34% had blocked them from seeing anything at all.
A more generous 9% had stuck their folks on limited access.
Meanwhile, a fellow reporter friend found out just this morning that her mother had a Facebook page and when she asked why she hadn’t been added as a friend, the mother replied “because I don’t really want you seeing all my photos and my personal business with friends.”
Ouch, mom. Guess it hurts both ways!