If You’re A Parent Of College-Aged Kids, You’re Probably Using Facebook To Spy On Them

shutterstock_91460429One of the many things I am thankful for is that social media wasn’t around when I was in college. My life would probably be a lot better documented if it was, but I’m still glad that there isn’t photographic evidence posted on the Internet of every stupid decision I made in my early 20′s. I’m also very glad that my mom doesn’t know about all of those decisions. New studies show that 72% of moms have a Facebook account. They also show that half of the parents on Facebook are using it to spy on their kids. I can effectively say that I dodged a huge bullet – but my kids are probably screwed.

According to this infographic, 92% of moms that use Facebook are “friends” with their kids. My mother is 76. She refuses to even turn on a computer because she is truly afraid that if she touches a single key on the keyboard the computer will implode on itself and civilization as we know it will end. Okay, I exaggerate a little, but she isn’t what you would call “Internet savvy.” I’m actually friends with a few of the mothers of childhood friends on Facebook now, but we are all adults and our relationships have changed from parent-child to actual friends.

Honestly, I don’t have a problem with parents using Facebook to “spy” on their younger kids. I wouldn’t even call it “spying” since a Facebook account is on the Internet and depending on the size of their circle of friends, hundreds of other people are seeing it too. I think that times change and parenting, people and habits change with them. If I had a college-aged child it would probably be really hard for me to refrain from using Facebook to see what they were getting into.

As a parent of tweens and teenagers it is pretty necessary to keep dibs their online habits. The Internet is a public and dangerous place. I feel fine about monitoring a child’s use. Once that child progresses to college, though, I think it’s time to let go of the reigns a little. Kids need to spread their wings and learn how to be competent, decision-making adults. That’s what college is for. College is also for making stupid decisions and messing up a little. You can’t protect your children from that. Part of growing up is making mistakes and learning from them. And if you spend enough time teaching your children what is and isn’t appropriate in the world of Internet when they are kids, hopefully by the time they get older they will have had the necessary lessons to prepare them for independence online and off.

(photo: Aletia/ Shutterstock)

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You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • somethingobscure

    How is it spying if they’re facebook friends?

  • Amanda

    I’m a college student, and although I do not have a FB anymore, whenever I posted something my dad wouldn’t approve of, I just block him from seeing it. Not that I’m a bad kid or anything, I don’t do drugs or party, but my parents are very religious & right-wing, and I’m the complete opposite so I just avoided argument by blocking them altogether. I do know people who will block family from viewin party albums or provocative pictures or statuses. It’s very easy to get around parental spying.

    • Amanda


  • meg

    I was finishing college right as facebook got “big” and I simply never
    friended my parents. When they asked me why, I told them I was an adult
    with a right to some privacy, and they backed off. It’s that simple.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    The worst decision I ever made on the Internet was to friend my parents, and now I can’t unfriend them or they’ll get all butthurt. Children of the Internet…hear my story and learn.

  • chickadee

    It was a condition of my daughter’s getting a Facebook page that she friend her father and me. Now that she is in college I can keep up with what she’s doing,because she uses it as a way t keep in touch with friends and family. I think you’re a bit behind the times here, anyway. Following your child’s Twitter feed or Instagram is more like spying. Facebook is for old people…..

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3IY44OA2MWHBV766SV4OGKJQ2A Miki

    LOL- if you think you’re are seeing anything, you’re sadly mistaken. Most flocked to Tumblr and didn’t give Mom a clue ;-) Facebook is just used for legit stuff.