Should you friend your parents on Facebook?

Photo By: Andrea Salazar

Congratulations to the YourTurn essay contest winners

Facebook is a site most often used for connecting with friends, posting pictures and updating others on your personal life. Some teens feel that it is an invasion of privacy when parents and other adults seek to “friend” them in this social forum.

We wanted Minnesota teens to give us more insight into their experiences with parents and adults on Facebook. So we asked: do you think that teens should friend their parents on Facebook? Have you ever “unfriended” an adult on Facebook?

A number of themes ran through the essays that we received, perhaps the most common theme being the desire that teens have for more freedom, privacy, trust and respect from adults. Some of the most compelling essays that we read used personal anecdotes and thoughtful reflections to emphasize the challenge that teens face in maintaining a healthy and satisfying relationship with their parents.

Each of the 84 submissions we received were a delight to read. The following essays stood out for their convincing arguments, candid style and illustrative personal examples. We encourage you to take a look at these winning essays, to continue writing and sharing your voice, and to submit again for the next YourTurn contest!

Top ten annoying things that parents do on Facebook

From teen responses, we compiled this list. It is in no particular order.

  • Constantly stalk their teens’ profile.
  • Barge in on teens’ online conversations.
  • Bombard their child with questions that make them feel like they have no social life or privacy.
  • Tell teens that something that they did on Facebook was immature.
  • Ask their child about a flirty post they put on someone’s wall. Then tease them about having a crush or being in love.
  • Send friend requests to their teen’s friends.
  • Post about how much they love their child, all over the teen’s wall.
  • Comment on every picture.
  • Constantly send game or app requests to their child and his or her friends.
  • Comment on everything their teen posts about.

First place

Matisse Rogers
Southwest High School

Judges notes: “Good arguments, balances pros and cons and covers the issue from both personal and general perspectives. Matisse starts with a solid lead and follows up with a good balance of the essay; strong writing with convincing arguments and good solutions.”

The first time I got a Facebook, my parents wanted me to give them my password so they could “see what was going on.” I refused, saying that that was an invasion of privacy. As a compromise, they both created Facebook profiles and friended me. I reluctantly accepted, realizing that this was a lot better than giving them my password and having them look at my personal conversations with people.

It’s not horrible to be friends with your parents on Facebook because, speaking for myself, I have nothing to hide on that website that I wouldn’t tell them myself. I understand that some kids can be different people online and with friends than with their parents, so in this case they wouldn’t want the lurking presence of Mom and Dad in the background. It could be restraining them from being themselves.

If you think that what you say or do on Facebook is bad enough to get you grounded, or worse, you probably need to realize that what you’re doing isn’t right. If you are aware that your parents’ reaction to your page would be anything but good, this should be a wake up call.

I think that this debate can be shaped to the specific person that it is applying to. If your parents are constantly stalking your page and bombarding you with questions that make you feel like you have no social life or privacy, that could be an appropriate time to unfriend them. Everybody has their limits on how involved they want other people to be in their lives, and everybody has only so much patience when it comes to nosey relatives.

It can be annoying, or even embarrassing when a grandma or uncle barges in on your conversations and comments on everything you post, but I don’t see it as a huge deal. I have never unfriended an adult or relative on Facebook, and I don’t plan on it. No matter how bad you want your privacy, I think that parents still have a right to be aware of what’s going on and who you’re involved with. They all have good intentions, so there’s no need to make this a bigger deal than what it really is.

Second place

Chung Xiong
Como Park High School

Judges notes: “Chung said, quite eloquently, “So, click the add button and realize that a parent won’t be just another name to your list, but a friend we will never forget.” Chung also used good examples, including an example of one adult who he deleted, and he explained why. A mature and well thought-out essay.”

You are excited to see that you have a new friend request on Facebook, but when you click on the tab, you see that it’s your mom. I’d accept, but will you? We should friend our parents on Facebook. Of course, we may think that the internet is for our friends only, but the truth is, our parents are just like us. You want to know what your friends are doing, and your parents want to know what you are doing. It’s simple. There are no secrets to hide if you’re online, documenting your life with the hourly status updates. Your parents are just trying to learn and to be a friend to us teenagers.

You can always “unfriend” your parents if they are embarrassing you, but why are we ashamed of our parents talking to us online? If we’re too cool for them online, how do you think our relationships will be with them offline? Now is the time to build a lasting relationship with them, not avoid them. They want to hear what you have to say, so “friend” them so you can hear their opinions because you may never know what your parents will say if your first choice of telling your problems to is Facebook.

I have “unfriended” an adult on Facebook because he just sat in my “friends list” for three months, and Facebook suggested that I send him a note. However, I didn’t know him, despite our twenty mutual friends. There was no association between us so I “unfriended” him. We add people we don’t know or want to know, but we can’t add our parents?

There is no reasonable excuse except for the fact that we are afraid of what our parents might do. Sure, they might embarrass you, but isn’t that the beauty of your parents, to show you that they love you when they comment on your new profile picture with: “you are soooo cute! I love you! it’s mom.” We take our parents’ ambitions to make a connection with us for granted, but we can’t.

We know our parents are not the best with technology, unless your parents are geniuses, but the fact that they tried to make a Facebook—which might have taken them about an hour, including asking us how to upload a picture onto their profile and asking us to help them edit their information—illustrates their commitment to being our friend and most importantly, our caretakers. So, click the “add” button and realize that a parent won’t be just another name to your list, but a friend we will never forget.

Third place

Brandon Nyberg
Saint Francis High School

Judges notes: “I like this essay because the writer explores the issue with honest ideas and does not pander to the parent audience. This candid style becomes part of the argument for privacy. I would like to see what this writer would do with a little more command of idiomatic language to enhance his voice.”

Do you ever find it awkward when your best friend’s parent comments on their status? Well I do. Today I will be talking to you about how parents will embarrass you publicly, how they will be watching everything you do, and why they will end up adding your “friends.” It may not seem like it, but there are many ways they can and will embarrass you on Facebook.

When you add a person on Facebook they gain access to your pictures, your wall, your statuses and plenty more. Knowing parents, they humiliate you whether they try to or not. This is because parents are not hip! Would you invite them along to see a movie with your friends? Or even bring them along for a sleepover at your friend’s house? I didn’t think so. You never want them in-touch with you because they are embarrassing. Now think about this in the world of Facebook.

Your parents getting involved in your life on the Facebook level is not good news. If you were to post a status about a girl you like, or possibly flirting with one on their wall, your parents will for sure call you out on it. They might pick on you in front of others by saying how you’re in love, or even if you have strict parents they will definitely give you that lecture about the birds and the bees. Before you know it they will be telling you which pictures you take are appropriate to keep on your profile along with what words you use in your status. Now that’s uncool just as much as it is when they add your friends on Facebook.

Just because your friends are nice to your parents when they come over, your parents will tend to add them because they’re like, “Oh! That’s Fred!” They’re just trying to play it cool like they did when they added you on Facebook, but the thing is, when your parents and your friend start chatting, without a doubt your friends are going to tell your secrets to them just to score some brownie points. Which will lead to what? Humiliation once again.

So you might as well be safe rather than sorry, otherwise feel free to step forward, plug your ears, and accept the consequences. This is why I believe you should not add your parents on Facebook: to help avoid them embarrassing you publicly, watching everything you do and adding your Friends.