Rejected: Parents Friending Their Kids on Facebook

There’s a new website called Oh Crap, My Parents Joined Facebook that catalogs embarrassing messages and posts from parents who don’t quite “get” social networking. The site pays tribute to the new but frequent phenomenon of kids feeling like their privacy is invaded when parents send them a friend request.

This mom and daughter are Facebook friends. Or playing Battleship.

This mom and daughter are Facebook friends. Or playing Battleship.

It’s an understandable sentiment. When Facebook started, it only allowed college students to join. This designated Facebook as a space to communicate with other people the same age, stay in touch with friends, and, yes, post photos from last weekend’s frat party.

But over the past two years, Facebook has opened its doors to both a younger and older audience, and as a result, new users have come to expect different things from the social-networking site. I believe it’s this discrepancy that puts kids so on edge when their parents join Facebook. That, and the photo of them chugging beer out of a red Solo cup.

In a Washington Post article, James Madison University student Mike Yeamans explains the dilemma of accepting his mom’s friend request:

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, but there are some parts of my college experience that I want to keep to myself. I chose to go away to school so I could experience a little freedom.

While it’s understandable that parents are well intentioned in making sure they know what their kids are doing or where they’re going — even on the internet — the limit seems to be college-aged children. Stanford University offers a series of classes called Facebook for Parents taught by Dr. BJ Fogg, who recommends keeping track of your children if they’re under 18:

Your kids will probably complain about you “friending” them. That’s normal. But if your kids are minors, you should “friend” them. That’s our view. If you’re opposed to friending your kids, you should still join Facebook to learn how it works.

No matter what, kids are going to groan when they receive a friend request from their parents. Users do have the ability to grant limited access of their profile to certain friends, allowing them to hide any potential incriminating photos. This is normal, and in fact, should be expected.

I think it boils down to one thing: why you’re joining. Parents often join for one of two reasons — because they want to keep up with their friends on Facebook or to keep up with their children on Facebook. Either way, your kids aren’t going to like it, but if you’re on solely to keep tabs on their internet doings, then they might have a good reason to be upset.

And remember: if you say anything embarrassing enough, it could end up on Oh Crap, My Parents Joined Facebook.