As Facebook continues its push for world domination, concern is growing in some quarters about the latest threat it poses to internet freedom – the dreaded ‘friend request’ from Mum or Dad.
Today, the fastest-growing segment of Facebook's estimated 66 million users is comprised of those over 25 years old. And as more and more people of parenting age sign up, so more and more teenagers are being forced to agonise over whether they should let their oldies in on their frivolous social networking activities.
As a result, reports the Washington Post, Facebook has witnessed a small explosion of ‘Ban Parents from Facebook’ type groups. One group has even petitioned Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg asking him to reverse his decision to open Facebook up to the public.
LEAVE ME ALONE!
Anti-parent groups are littered with tales from students who’ve found their private internet lives (on wholly public social networking sites) compromised by the arrival of Mum and Dad on the scene.
Lily Goldberg, 17, probably summed up the thoughts of a generation when she wrote: "It's like having them walk into my room".
So what’s the answer? Should parents back off and let their kids be kids, or is there good reason to let them keep an eye on their online activities. In truth, both arguments hold some sway.
As Larry Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University, points out, parents should be upfront about wanting to know what their children are doing online, but shouldn't be upset if their children don’t want to be friends. After all, many young people have come to think of Facebook as theirs, and see parents as interlopers.
Of course, as any young remotely computer-literate Facebook user will know, there’s always the option to tinker with the privacy controls too, limiting what your parents can and can’t see. They’d probably never even know you’d done it, either.