May 12, 2013
Friending Our Mothers: A Mother’s Day Discussion About Facebook Friends
As we grow up, our relationships with our parents change. Where once they were teachers, disciplinarians, and raisers, our parents have become guiders and friends. For some people, that friendship extends even into social media, like Facebook. According to AP National Writer, Martha Mendoza, one in three mothers connected with their children over Facebook. That is a lot of mothers and children connected via social media.
Mendoza explains several sides to this situation. On the one hand, Susan Newman, a parenting expert, says that friending a child on Facebook is synonymous with reading his or her diary, so she suggests waiting until children are independent adults before engaging in Facebook friending, if at all. Even then, the relationship can be strained, as with the example of Josh Knoller and his mother Rochelle Knoller.
Rochelle tried for years to get Josh to accept her friend request. He did accept eventually, “caving in” as he said. Josh said that he and his mother fought over the Facebook friendship. Rochelle explained that no sooner than when she would comment on his page that he would call her up and tell her she can’t post that on his page because his friends read his stuff and therefore her comments. So, after some discussion (“pretty big fights” as Josh said), they came to an agreement: she can like stuff on his page and make comments as long as they are not embarrassing, but he can delete the comments if he chooses.
However, the other side of the debate consists of the 1 in 3 mothers already friends with their children and the children who want their mothers to be on Facebook. Kelly McBride is a good example of the latter. She is an assistant professor of communication at LaSalle University in Philadelphia and has been trying to get her own mother on Facebook.
McBride also talks with her students about this issue. What she has found is that students who friend their mothers keep their Facebook pages pretty PG, taking down the drinking and partying and suggestive pictures a notch or two or completely. They use other social media for those (such as Twitter and Instagram).
Another example of parents friending their children is Stephan Balkam, CEO of Family Online Safety Institute, who required his daughter to friend him. In fact, he was her first friend. When she turned 13, he allowed her to have a Facebook page, but only if he was her friend. He promised not to stalk her, but made sure that he could keep an eye on Facebook.
The most interesting part of Mendoza’s article was the discussion of who was most likely to friend a parent. Sixty-five percent of 13-year-olds initiated their friending with their parent, and the 13-year-olds are the most likely group to friend a parent. The 20 somethings are the least likely to do so, at only 40 percent.
My mother does not have a Facebook page and is not likely to open one. Though she is not technology scared, she certainly is not a techno-geek. If she did have a Facebook page, I would gladly friend her. I would let her see my page and pictures and posts in all their glory. I am a 30 something, so my real-life relationship with my mom is one more of friendship than anything else. That would not change on Facebook.
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