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Nearly half of all parents friend their kids on Facebook

Are you Facebook friends with your kids? If not, you may soon be in the minority. A newly-published report on parenting and social media suggests parents are currently evenly divided, with 48% saying they are Facebook friends with their kids and 52% saying they are not.

The results of the survey represent a significant shift in attitudes among kids, particularly teens. Previously, most kids would have been reluctant to let their parents into their online lives but that appears to be changing.

“It looks like more parents with teenage children are more likely to be friends with their kids, although many admit it can be awkward at times,” says Andrew Eisner, director of content at Retrevo, the online shopping site that produced the report.

The survey doesn’t shed any light on whether teens are just becoming more adept at using Facebook’s privacy controls to screen out parents from content they don’t want them to see, or whether they are treating parents as just another friend. Either way, Eisner reports that parents “learn a lot about their teenagers”, which can be both good and bad!

In a welcome sign for child privacy advocates, only 8% of parents thought it was OK for kids 12 and under to have a social media page, while 62% thought teens should wait until they are at least 16. (Facebook’s own rules prohibit membership for under-13s.)

In other findings, just one-third of parents said texting wasn’t allowed during family meals. The surprisingly low number led to suggestions that parents might well be setting a bad example by texting and checking e-mail at mealtimes themselves.

It also appears that parents no longer regard cell phones and computers as toys but more as essential communication tools.  When it comes to meting out punishments, parents are far more likely to ground their kids (27%) or deprive them of TV (22%) than take away their phones or internet access. In a sign that diplomacy was still alive and well in the home, even these classic punishments fall far behind the “we need to talk” approach that was employed by 47% of parents.

Mother’s Day Special Report: Parenting and Social Media
is part of Retrevo’s Gadgetology series, which focuses on consumers and gadgets.

Are you Facebook friends with your kids? Do you still consider taking away a cell phone or Internet access as suitable punishment for misbehavior? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!

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