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October 19, 2007

Over 40 is Facebook Creepy?

Facebook I have been reading about youngin's getting bothered about "creepy" elders hanging out in their Facebook turf. First the article "OMG my mom joined Facebook" by New York Times Cyberfamilias columnist Michelle Slatalla. Then articles like "Teens to parents: It's our Facebook"  by Janet Kornblum of USA TODAY.

But yesterday's article in the New York Times titled "73 and Loaded with Friends on Facebook" pushed me over the edge. A daughter, after being upset about her mother "friending" a girl on Facebook that was 18, started a Facebook group called "Over 40 is Facebook Creepy".

First of all, 40 is NOT old (not that I am taking that personally). Second of all, the "not highschool, not college" age people may just be using Facebook for, um,

SOCIAL NETWORKING WITH EACH OTHER, not spying. I am enjoying having a Facebook profile because it allows me to network with a cross section of my friends, from business associates to preschool mom friends.  I have no interest in becoming "friends" with my kids or their friends on Facebook. Infact, I think THAT is creepy. As Martha said in a previous post about Facebook, she did not attempt to contact any of her kids friends.

Can't we all just co-exist? If not, maybe some ground rules should be set to help everyone get along. Because moms are good at making rules, I think it is appropriate that we set them:

  1. KIDS - have fun in Facebook - just don't post anything that you don't want your future employer reading. And only make "friends" with people you know or have a connection with. Better yet, read the Five Things to Think About When Using Facebook from the IT Department from Cornell.
  2. PARENTS - Have fun social networking on Facebook, but don't attempt to be "friends" with your kids. But if they hear that you are beating out all of your friends playing Scrabulous  (J,S,J &G) and want to challenge you, make sure you remind them that "they" are initiating the friend invitation.

I wanted to see if anyone actually joined the "over 40 is "facebook creepy" Facebook group and saw there were 49 members. Then I saw some other groups where the kiddies who started the group where not using their manners:

  • Facebook is not MySpace, Biotches!!!! with 27 members
  • WHY do old people have facebook?? with 22 members
  • Death To Creepy Ass Mother F**kers That Message You On Facebook!! with 12 members

And no, I did not attempt to join those groups. But I decided to create my own with help from my not creepy friends (that are close to or over 40) and are only interested in Facebook for social networking with their friends.

Should it be:

  • Not Creepy Over 40
  • Biotches with No Interest In Social Networking with Kids
  • The Kick Arse Moms Social Network Group (no kids allowed)
  • *** Please fill comment with your own suggestions..


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I completely disagree with you about not being "friends" with your kids on Facebook (or MySpace for that matter.) One of my rules for social networking in my home is that if my kids want a profile on a particular SN site, they have to "friend" me. While I have been pretty specific in telling them how to set up a private profile, and the kinds of behavior that are acceptable while online (plus they are pretty savvy) it is still my responsibility as a parent to make sure they are safe. In 2007, knowing what they are doing online is part of keeping them safe and if I can't see their profile then I am in the dark.

I never message them or post on their wall (unless it was initiated by them) and I don't "friend" their friends, but I have been asked to be a "friend" by their friends. I peek in on their profiles probably once a week and all seems to be well.

I use my Facebook profile to connect with my fellow grad students in my Distance Education program. Being an aware mom is not my intent while I am there, but it does feel good to see a message from my kids when I log on.

Really good point Robbi - but I am still confused. I also agree that it is important to set limits and stay involved with younger kids on any online site. But what are the rules when your kids go to college, is being their social networking friends a choice or rule? These are modern questions that our parents did not have to deal with.

This is funny - I was thinking the same thing the other day as I added my younger, teen cousins to my friend list. Is it weird? Maybe. But it does offer me a way to connect with my cousins on (presumably) their own turf. I am also finding friends from high school and college that I don't necessarily want to network with on LinkedIn, but would like to know about their lives after school.

Let's start some other groups:
- Am I just getting old, or is that arthritis in my hip?
- Watch out teen driver, my mini van is going to run you over!
- Dude, I wore leg warmers long before you were born.
- Remember, my kids will be paying your social security (well, that one could be risky)

P.S. My kids are still too young for a SN profile of any sort, so thank you to those of you with older kids who are sorting it out. By the time my kids are old enough, I will have so much collective wisdom to look back on!

Well, this post finally got me to start a facebook account. It's a brave new world where we can see what they're doing and they can see what we're doing -- what better way to keep everyone honest?

Hi Beth...I actually do a lot on Facebook, and I'm *well* over 40, as are most of my friends. I also don't have kids, so I'm there because of business contacts in tech and marketing. And I don't think that any of us who are on there (partly as an extension of our LinkedIn lives) have *any* interest in the young people on there. It's both the parents who aren't networking themselves and the weirdos that give kids the idea that all the adults want to look at/bother them. Frankly, lots of us over 40's really don't care about the young people. We've got too much going on in our own Facebook social circles :-)

i`m a happy man that wants to make load of nice happy friends

I set up a facebook for a very short time, and realized that it was boring and I had better things to do. It was interesting enough to see what my kids are up to, but I can't imagine any adult wanting to participate in that site. There are so many things I find a lot more engaging and worthwhile than online networking. Beyond that, I'm over 40, but I remember my teen years like they were yesterday. If my parents had wanted to do the things I was doing as a teenager, it would have annoyed me, embarrassed me, and possibly eroded their place as authority figures in my life. Remembering how it feels to be young keeps us young, dabbling in the youngsters' world alongside them does not. I say, leave Facebook to the kids and move on.

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