When Your Kid Won’t “Friend” You on Facebook

Posted January 16, 2009 by

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You want to hear something really embarrassing? When I first got on Facebook (yes, I’ll admit, it’s my newest addiction) I found my 22 year old niece and “friended” her.  She accepted, and then about 2 weeks later, removed me from her “friends” list!

I just didn’t understand when I first got onto this social networking site that teens and young adults really don’t want you to know what they’re up to (and I have to admit, I wouldn’t have wanted my aunts and uncles — or parents, for that matter — to be my “friend” when I was my niece’s age, either.) Has this happened to you? A recent article by Laura Belkin really breaks this topic down for parents, and is funny, to boot. Check out  “When Your Kid Won’t Friend You on Facebook”.

The part I liked best was when she said that some moms had gotten together and formed a group on the site called, “Moms of Kids Who Are Embarrassed They Have a Facebook”.

Now, when I run into my niece at holiday gatherings, we don’t bring up the subject of Facebook, and I pretend like I have no idea that she removed me from her friends list. And wonder of wonders, we talk face to face and have great conversations, without the aid of a social networking site. Imagine that!

As a parent, what do you think is the best way to manage your child’s social networking habit? Do you insist that they “friend” you? How do you handle the privacy issue? Do you have your teen give you their passwords? Please share your best social networking tips with the EP Community!

About

Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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  1. awstevens (Edit) Report

    I am a college student and my friends and I talk about whos parents and adults that we know have facebook now. I think it is so strange for adults to have a facebook. I mean I understand why they do, it is terrific for finding old friends from school and keeping in touch. “Facebook stalking” is a common term people use when they are searching for people and what not instead of doing whatever they really should be doing. I have been babysitting for a family for 5 years and the parents recently go FB and added me as a friend. I accepted, but I put them on a limited profile where they can only see what I choose for them to be able to see. I do this for any adults that I know who have one and add me as their friend. My mom jokes about getting a one and I think I must tell her at least once a month, if not more, that she does not need one. I also call her when I see that her friends have one and tell her she should tell them they dont need it. It started out as a college social network and you couldnt get a FB unless you had a college email address. This is the argument I use as to why adults do not need FB.

    I will add an adult only if they friend request me. Never will I request to be their friend and adults will always go under the limited profile category. What happens at college, stays at college is how I feel about it.

    Reply
  2. Bill (Edit) Report

    Facebook does not change anything is just the normal extension of existing social circles. It extends reach and makes some types of communication possible that wouldn’t take place without it.

    I would encourage understanding from those parents who feel slighted by being ignored or “unfriended” and/or recommend multiple facebook accounts for the kid who doesn’t want to offend their parents. One account for the parents, another for friends their age.

    Also remember that the Internet has loads of trends that grow old quickly, so facebook for now, like Alabama, is the place to be if you’re young and upwardly Mobile. Next week, month or year its “Lima Alone Facebook” and this particular problem is solved – for now. 🙂
    🙂

    Reply
  3. Jack's Mom (Edit) Report

    I am sure that this can happen. The parentcare people at myspace might be able to help with that. My older kids have helped me before as well.

    Check my comment of the spying article for other help on keeping track of your kids online.

    Reply
  4. Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor (Edit) Report

    As Jack’s mom said, when you “friend” someone, you have access to their entire page. (Which is why I was removed from my niece’s page. LOL.) I think getting your kids’ passwords is a great idea. I have a question, though — what if your teen has a “dummy” page that they show you, and another secret page they keep to themselves, with a made up name? Has anyone come across that dilemma yet?

    Reply
  5. Jack's Mom (Edit) Report

    I think the first poster has mis-information about what it means to be accepted as a friend on FB or MS. Being accepted as a friend means you have access to everything on their page.

    If you haven’t seen a page you should! You will be shocked at what you may find. I recently had my son’s MS page taken down with the help of the parental care team. I saw the page because my older son was concerned about what he saw there and alerted me to what was on it. If my son wanats another MS or FB page, my rule is not unless I have access to it. An option I gave him was that once a week he logs me in for a content review.

    If used in a constructive manner, there is nothing wrong with these pages. It is when your child lives an alter-life that you have no clue about when problems start. You can play a game called Drug Wars where you can become a drug dealer and kill people. You amass virtual money for your score. Imagine finding thata online!

    Reply
  6. Brooke (Edit) Report

    I think it is hilarious and totally appropriate that you were removed.

    Even though you are obviously a “cool aunt” its like letting an adult read your diary.

    Reply
  7. Jeannie (Edit) Report

    I have two teenagers who facebook regularly. They along with most of their friends have added me as a friend as well as a few of their parents who have FB as well. There are lots of pics and comments from everyone and it seems it is just another way to hang out together. We all live fairly spread out in the countryside, so it is nice to connect with eachother and it is nice to get the kids take on things…

    Reply
  8. Louise (Edit) Report

    So far I have raised 2 14 year old boys that currently don’t have the text messaging problem and the facebook issues.

    The problem with society today is that parents want to be their child’s friend. This is the biggest mistake that parents are making and maybe that’s why consequences don’t work (also consequences really are just another word for punishment- don’t kid yourself: at least my kids feel that way when we take away privilages for unacceptable behavior). My kids were not allowed texting privilages till it was cost effective and they were mature enough. They are on facebook.

    I don’t want to be their friend. I am their MOTHER. and when I read an article in the New York Times last year about how a mother wanted her daughter to invite her on facebook I was appalled. Wake up, part of parenting is being a parent. part of being a teenager is the need to have privacy. Children need space, however if you manage that privacy properly, without them feeling as if they are controlled and have no power, you will succeed. For example, where you place your child’s computer and how long you allow them to be on the computer. Also most of my twins socializing takes place in PERSON. We’ve instituted in our family, no technology days. This means no computer, cellphone, television, handheld video games, etc – the day is for board games, reading or going to a museum, playing outside, exercising. I know all of my kid’s passwords in fact they don’t mind giving it to me.

    I have a whole host of suggestions, however what I do as a parent takes alot of effort, effort that most parents wont’ or can’t do.

    You will not be your child’s friend untill they are 25. I am lucky so far, but we are just in the beginning stages of the teenage years however if you leave your child powerless, they will try to become powerful in unproductive ways. So you must make them feel powerful in a way that you still, as the parent, have control. They are children till they are 18 and unfortunately 18 year olds are not as mature as the 18 year old of the 70’s. enough from me for now.

    Reply

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