Shreya Raman is currently fighting off a major wave of embarrassment on her Facebook account. She logs in to find out that on her status update that went “Awesum party last nite!!!” her mother had zealously commented “You better nt hav been drinking?! who was with u? were u driving?”; and to add insult to injury, a friend comments: “ouch Shreya! u’ve been busted!”
Shreya’s not the only one. Many young adults share a rather uncomfortable relationship with their parents on popular social networking sites. Everybody thinks twice before accepting a friend request from their parents or relatives and more often than not, end up editing their privacy settings so that they don’t reveal much about what they’re up to. “It’s because I’ll get hell from my mother every time I use a curse word, or talk about drinking with friends,” says Naveen Raj, a final-year college student. Naveen feels that most youngsters feel conscious about their activities on the public domain when they know that their parents can view it too. “Takes the fun out of the social network when you have to lead a guarded existence online,” he says.
Young adults have a number of things they’d want to keep away from their parents including relationship statuses and moments of inebriation that could have been caught on camera. “There are two extreme reasons behind why youngsters like to keep their parents from seeing what they post online. One, parents who use the medium to spy on their child’s activities and clamp down on them, and parents who are too eager to be part of their child’s social life,” explains Sujatha Ratnam, a school counselor who has had to handle many incidents where parents get too involved. With cyber bullying taking prominence of late, a lot of parents feel that it’s best that they are part of the whole social network movement. “Online or not, I look after my boy. Simple,” says one parent while another defends her joining the website saying it has nothing to do with her daughter. “Just because I’m older does not mean that I don’t have a life,” she says. I have friends too and I have pictures and conversations to share. What’s the whole issue with that?” she says.
But when it comes to letting out information online, it seems that the tables have turned these days. A recent study revealed that parents often reveal more information on their online accounts than what their kids do. Fourteen or forty, the whole idea of joining the social network has to do with a greater desire for a sense of belonging — for some parents, with their children while for the young adults, with their peer group.
Rupesh Gaekwad, a high-school student, loves that his father’s among his friends on the site. “I was in a boarding school the last two years and the site was the only way my father and I could share our interests. We got to bond despite the distance,” he says.
Krithika Rau, a freelance writer feels that it’s healthy having your parents on your friends’ list, and people should really stop making a huge deal out of it. “If you’re posting stuff on the site that you don’t want your parents to see, then you shouldn’t be posting it for the rest of the world to see in the first place,” she feels. But Krithika too has a funny yet embarrassing anecdote to share: “It’s cool that I have my dad on my friend’s list, but it’s quite embarrassing when I get random poll requests on my wall asking me whether I think my dad’s sexy or not! Now that I don’t Like,” she laughs.