Friend Request: Mum

I am sure that many of you who are reading my post now, even if you haven’t thought about it recently, would admit you had a feeling of stress when you first saw one of your parents scrolling down your Facebook profile. Well I remember, it was only a year ago that I added my mum on Facebook and became totally chilled about her and me interacting through FB. 


The article “How teens, parents struggle to share social media” written by Heather Kelly and published on CNN the past month, describes a similar situation; parents and teens both using the same social media platform. Specifically, the article revolves around Carly, a 17 year-old from the Bay Area and her mum, who are friends on Facebook. Carly has adjusted her privacy settings and her mum has a limited view of her online identity. Parents and children are trying to find a balance in order to coexist and in the article this is achieved by setting some ground rules. 

(You can read the whole article here:

It is mentioned that Carly manipulates her privacy settings and does not allow her mum to have any access to what her friends mention about her. Teens can edit what appears on their profile by simply adjusting some settings.


This act refutes the theory of Marwick and boyd (@alicetiara, @zephoria) suggesting that self-presentation is collaborative. Carly, by not permitting her mum from seeing things she is associated with, is in a way hiding parts of her true identity. Self- presentation is a collaboration in that

“individuals work together to uphold preferred self-images of themselves and their conversation partners”(Marwick & boyd 123). 

So are parents what Marwick and boyd defined as “the nightmare reader”?

“Context collapse creates an audience that is often imagined as its most sensitive members: parents, partners, and bosses. This ‘nightmare reader’ is the opposite of the ideal reader, and may limit personal discourse”(Marwick & boyd 125)


Parents have the desire to coexist with their children online, while monitoring what they display online. In the words of the article “Parents, meanwhile, are grappling with how to monitor their kids’ online activity and keep them safe without being stifling or intrusive. And both are seeking ways to coexist peacefully on the few social networks they do share.” There has been a “context collapse” because we see how parents and children come together in social settings which where not intended for these kinds of social ties to be maintained. Parents and children don’t need Facebook to maintain social ties. Ellison and Boyd say

“Seeing how the default privacy settings on Facebook have changed over time highlights the meaningful nature of change on SNSs”(Ellison & Boyd 167)


Because of the growing presence of parents using Facebook, teens rely upon new social media platforms to communicate. The term “ colonization of the sites by adults” is used in the article to describe the presence of adults online.

 As a reaction to parental use on Facebook, teens “edit what appears on their profile, deleting posts, comments and unwanted tags”. Teens, according to the article, not only adjust their privacy settings but “they’ll retreat to more private messaging tools such as Kik, WhatsApp or Snapchat, which can be used to send private messages to groups of friends.”

This behavior is related with what Haythornthwaite termed as

“media multiplexity” (Haythornthwaite 130).


Teens are so accustomed to using social media technologies, that may even make use of more of the available media in order to communicate. This happens of course with stronger ties and may serve as a solution for some teens to avoid parent contact and drama on Facebook. Technological developments are such today that allow teens to seek comfort in so many other social networking platforms.


The solution proposed by the article to teens’ fear of the colonization of parents online, and parents’ fear of their kids’ public exposure is to find a balance. Some kids and parents have agreed on some boundaries such as not commenting on friends’ comments and not tagging without having consent.


 Carly ends the article saying “I really try to not have any pictures of me from any parties or any captions/comments with swear words … but it’s hard to be 100% clean when your entire life is online”. Carly very well admits that her entire life is online giving special importance to online networks. This would be seen by Nancy Baym (@nancybaym) as a

“domestication of a technology”(N.Baym 45)

in which the technology is integrated into everyday life and stops seeming as a technology. 

I chose this article because it is quite relatable since I have heard so many stories from my friends and their parents on Facebook. The story is presented as a narration, incorporating quotes mostly from the daughter, Carly. The whole article revolves around Carly and her mother, but towards the end we see some statistics from Pew study and an example of another person called Julie LaRue. The story might have been presented differently by adding more outside sources, thus making it more general and adding more insight from the perspective of the mother or more parents around the world.

I believe there should have been much more info on parent-daughter communication by providing quotes also taken directly from the mother since the relationship is obviously bi-dimensional. Having a monitor of some kind is crucial within the online world because very often we can’t predict the

“reach”(N.Baym 10) a message will have.


Based on this I would say that the audience should always be thought of as unknown and as able to manipulate, transform and interpret messages in a different way than the intended meaning. 

     5 points to remember:

  • There’s no need to fear, privacy is here!
  • Remember to think of the implications a post may have!
  • Don’t be afraid if mum is watching!
  • Mums and kids can both use social media!
  • Facebook is public so stay appropriate!!

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