On Facebook, sometimes the most awkward friend request are the ones of people closest to you – your family.
Many students on the social networking site must eventually decide how close they should get to their family, especially to their parents, online.
A small sampling survey of 25 Belmont students revealed more students have said yes to a parents’ “friend request” on Facebook than not. While this fact may not be surprising, when it came to actually being friends with his or her parents, the numbers were about half and half.
Some students were confident when it came to establishing an online presence without his or her parents.
“We both agreed we can have our own ‘lives’ online,” said senior Amanda Short, who decided not to become friends with her parents on Facebook. “My parents trust my judgment on what I post on Facebook, so they are fine with not having access to it.”
A major reason why students become friends with their parents on Facebook was simply because it seemed like the only choice.
“I felt sort of obligated to,” said senior Andrew Prosser, when asked why he became friends with his parents on Facebook.
But Prosser, like many students in the same situation, took precautions to ensure privacy, such as allowing parents to only have access to a limited profile.
“I have my privacy settings customized so they only see a very small amount of what I post. I don’t regret that decision at all,” said Prosser.
Others have no reservations when it comes to allowing their parents to become their Facebook friends.
“They already know what’s going on in my life,” said junior Julianna Marcarelli, who considers her parents to be just like any other friends. “I have nothing to hide.”
This open-door approach can be most useful if what students are posting to their profiles is appropriate and professional.
Dr. Bonnie Reichert, associate professor of public relations, often promotes having an online presence in social media in her classes. Reichert uses Facebook to engage with friends and family as well as former and current students online.
When asked what advice she could give to students attempting to maintain a professional online presence (that would also please Mom and Dad), Reichert advised students should “be cautious, as what you put out there might hurt your chances for employment – don’t be disrespectful or hurtful.”