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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 09/24/2009

High School Senior Tells Adults: Get Off Facebook!

By Valerie Strauss

Adam Turay, 17, is a senior at South County Secondary School in Fairfax County. He is editor-in-chief of his school paper, The Courier, is a member of his school's "It's Academic" team and plays guitar and keyboards in a rock band.

By Adam Turay
I have maintained the same after-school routine for roughly three-fourths of my high school career. When I get home, I’ll usually get a snack, listen to music, and surf Facebook for half an hour.

I was sitting on Facebook one afternoon looking through some new photos of my friend at a football game. The sequence of comments was fairly run-of-the-mill; there were some chummy remarks from his teammates, a few gushy sentiments from his girlfriend, and one excessively adulatory comment from ... his mother?

I paused and stared at the comment for a full five seconds. It said something like, “My hero! All those years playing catch with Dad in the backyard paid off!! I’m so proud of you!!!”

Like any natural phenomena, the presence of adults on Facebook became more and more noticeable after that first encounter. I began to see them everywhere.

They were “liking” status updates and Wall Posts. They were commenting photos left and right. They were turning up in droves on my “People You May Know” sidebar. Teachers, parents, uncles, and aunts.

I can recall the day my own mother friend-requested me. I spent about a minute deciding on an appropriate course of action and, finding none, I left it hanging in friend request limbo.

I will admit, seeing parents and grandparents up and about on Facebook created a rather alarming juxtaposition. It threatened my everyday existence.

Though adults (and even teachers in some cases) want to maintain relationships with children, grandchildren etc., Facebook is definitely not the place to do so.

Your average teenage Facebook community is, to say the least, unrefined; an adult’s Facebook usually exists for purposes of “Networking.”

There is no reason these two worlds should collide.

Students have little common ground with teachers and family members, not enough to warrant the constant communication that Facebook intimates. I probably care as much about my aunt’s promotion as she cares about my last basketball game.

I’m waiting with considerable trepidation for the future, a hyper-connected community in which I am kept constantly abreast of the day-to-day activities of every one of my family members.

READERS: Do you agree with Adam Turay that adults don't belong on Facebook? Whether you agree or not, remember he will be reading your comments and he is only 17.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 24, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Parents  | Tags:  Facebook, adults on Facebook, teachers  
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He's not saying adults shouldn't be on FaceBook, he's saying they shouldn't be trying to be part of their kids' networks. i.e. Don't friend-request your kids. Which makes sense.

OTOH, the sooner the kids learn that posting on Facebook, blogs, or anywhere else online, the things you don't want adults to hear, is a bad idea, is probably a good thing.

When I was a teen we had Certain Conversations outside the house, in a place where parents wouldn't overhear us.

Posted by: wiredog | September 24, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

My nephew defriended 100's of "friends" because news of what he was doing was getting back to his dad. Doesn't seem such a hard thing to do - just don't friend people you don't want to know what you post up.

Posted by: charley42 | September 24, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Adam - If it's any consolation, I'm in my 40s and recently received a friend request from my mother. So even adults have this problem. Perhaps you could set up another Facebook account just for your family. As for me, I keep a policy that I will accept any friend request that comes from one of my nephews and nieces but I'd never send them one.

Posted by: LionelMandrake | September 24, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I've been in this situation too and the best solution I've found is to accept the friend request of parents, aunts, uncles, etc....but then adjust my privacy settings so they can't see anything I don't want them to see!

Posted by: BeenThere15 | September 24, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Well, Adam, what to say?

I'm a dad, both my kids are awesome and trustworthy. One's a guy, 16 and the other is his sister, 18 and just starting college.

I joined FB after I swore I wouldn't. Unlike a lot of people, I don't have a lot of time to kill on the internet.

But I was witnessing my wife checking up on their shenanigans and I thought I'd join just to feel like I was part of it all. I felt left out. So I joined under a funny alias that my kids and wife know about. I also rarely post on my kids' walls or click on likes because I agree, that's obnoxious. It's helicoptering, right Adam?

But as a father and a member of my family, I felt obligated to join and "keep an eye" on things. A lot of their posts are pretty trivial and boring and silly. But they're easy to scan quickly. On one rare occasion I've been alerted to some sketchy behavior on the part of their "friends" that have made me feel it's been worth the effort.

It gave me the credibility to remind my kids to be careful what they post on FB. Advice that President Obama gave at his school speech earlier this month. Radical, right?

Hope this helps Adam. I know you've heard this a hundred times by now, because I heard it a lot in my youth–– you'll understand this better if and when you're a dad yourself.

Also, a note to FB parents -- back off!


Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | September 24, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Seeing as how Facebook was started in 2004 for then-college/grad students, no, I don't think it should be a teen-only site. It's only natural for there to be long-time (by internet standards, anyway) users who are nearing or in their 30s. That said, it's also a little weird for parents to "friend" their kids - smacks of helicopter parenting, quite frankly, especially when you're talking about 17 year olds.

If they force you to friend them, do so but set up an alternate account for non-family, and change the privacy settings for that account so that only your friends can see your posts.

Posted by: dkp01 | September 24, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm 30, so I'm one of those adults on Facebook. Both of my parents and many of my aunts and uncles are my Facebook friends, and I'll admit that at first I didn't know how to feel about them being able to see my profile. But then I figured, if I don't want my Mom to know about it, I probably shouldn't post it on the Internet anyway.

Posted by: literaldreamer | September 24, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Adam, and I'm the 40-yr-old aunt whose promotion is of little interest to my 16-yr-old nephew. I tried to "friend" him, by the way, but only as a joke. ;-)

I find it cringeworthy when I see "people you may know" and it's "Joe Schmo, Woodward High School."

Posted by: chunche | September 24, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I am a parent of a teen and we are both on FB. I've never attempted to join his FB network and he's never attempted join mine. Boundaries are clear. We don't socialize together, why would we join each other's social networks?

I do, however, have other family members on my network. Adults only.

Posted by: CarolBG | September 24, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I would encourage teens to be careful on what pictures and posts you put on Facebook. If you ever have to apply for a security clearance in your future, Pictures of party behaviour could be to your detriment in earning money! Also, looking at what people post.

Posted by: CALSGR8 | September 24, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Well, Adam is clearly smart and accomplished, but he is suffering from the same me-at-the-center-of-the-universe syndrome that afflicts most people his age.

Facebook does not "belong" to him and to his peers, giving them the right to say who should and shouldn't use it, any more than it "belongs" to me and other adults my age who enjoy connecting with friends around the country.

If his complaint is that he doesn't want the adults in his life to be in his friend network, then he should use more precise language. That's a legitimate complaint in my mind, and one that can be solved quite simply by unfriending/blocking people he doesn't want to see and by adjusting his profile privacy settings.

Posted by: mccxxiii | September 24, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Adam: Please open your circle of “friends” to older people. Your peers are going to be around for a long time. Your elders will be dying off in the years to come and you will be missing your opportunity to share insights with them – to hear from them of what it was like back “then.”
Adam – Mrs. Cheney and I are both 80 years old. Our 55 year-old daughter persuaded us to become her Facebook friend. Through this we are now able to interact with our grandchildren as we could never otherwise do so.
Adam – When I was young (even younger than you now are) I lived next door to a very old man who everyday sat on the porch with a blue blanket wrapped about his legs. He had been a Drummer Boy in the Union Army in the Civil War! Imagine! Every time I think of him I am filled with an immense regret that I did not sit at his feet and hear from his lips of his experiences in that tragic conflict. I could of! I didn’t!
Please don’t throw away such opportunities. Spend more time with the older people around you. It may be your only chance to do so.
Hal Cheney

Posted by: zickezacke | September 24, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Adam, let us old folks have our fun. You can always block us, you know.

Posted by: watchbird1 | September 24, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Turay impresses me with his well-placed arguments and I find them somewhat compelling. Perhaps, it's simply because I happen to agree with his rationale. I have been invited to Facebook by several young acquaintances and have avoided it without regret. Reason: adults and teenagers are like oil and water -- they just don't mix.

Posted by: Diogenes | September 24, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

The youth, he's only 17, is discovering that he lacks privacy on the web and that others will find him. Welcome to real life.

In a few years he will be an adult, he's only 17 now, will he resign from Facebook? More to the point, will Facebook let him leave and purge all of his information?

If he wants privacy, then talk to people face to face. Make a real friend.

The young fella, he's only 17, should go read the NYT article on how to control who knows you are on Facebook.

Posted by: SemperPax | September 24, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Also, Adam has used the word "intimates" incorrectly. If he is practicing SAT words, I wonder if he meant to say "evinces".

Posted by: mccxxiii | September 24, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Adam -

The concept that any internet experience is off limits to anyone sufficiently motivated is something you need to get over. If the teenage community paid for facebook access with an agreement that it would exclude those over a certain age then I could see your issue. However you don't so as it morphs into whatever comes next then we all will live with whatever it is or stop using it.

Lesson to be learned: if you aren't paying the piper you don't decide who gets to listen

Posted by: roxroe | September 24, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Adam, thanks for the information. My kids (but they are in their 30s) bugged me to join because I resisted. I joined myspace sometime ago because it was more about art and music, I thought, and connecting with artists and musicians. I was told by the 30ish daughter that facebook was for her generation, the successful 30ish somethings. How refreshing that that is not the case! Thanks, again.

P.S. I am not interested in networking but in finding old friends from the 1960s.

Posted by: dunnz | September 24, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Adam, I am dismayed that The Washington Post put words in your mouth. I did not interpret your editorial as telling adults to get off Facebook. I find your description of the two worlds very accurate, and I agree with your sentiment that they stay separate. As a 40-year-old father of four, I am not interested in friending any of my kids once they get on Facebook, and I am sure they would say the same about me. However, I do enjoy using Facebook to post multimedia facets of my existence to share with friends my age, as well as to practice writing, and I plan to continue to use this great social network for those purposes for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: AmitDC | September 24, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Well Adam - when was the last time you wrote or called Grandma and Grandpa to say Hi and let them know how you're doing? How about Auntie Em in Seattle? Have you been in touch with her lately?

You may not care so much about them, at least not yet, but they care about you and they want to hear about your doings.

Believe it or not, they were young once themselves. Most likely things you post on Facebook, although different from their own degeneracy aren't that shocking.

Truly shocking or illegal things don't belong on Facebook anyway. Unless you want to get caught, which I'm assuming you don't.

We oldsters will try not to be too intrusive, although when you post that you got a 95 on your calculus quiz it does seem like you're fishing around for a "like this" from your "friends."

And don't forget that Mom and Dad have found their own bunch of Facebook friends. For all you know those gray haired faces on their pages are old enemies, best friends, girl/boy-friends.

Your oldsters have lives too and unfortunately for you - you're part of them - so clean up your act and friend Grandma so I don't have to explain to her why you don't care about her!

Posted by: RedBird27 | September 24, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

As an aunt of a nephew that is 3000 miles away, I would have no illusions about his being interested in my promotion, but I would be very interested in his basketball game or class play or every day chit chat that it's very difficult to keep up with otherwise. My nephew is only 3 right now, so it's not really an issue, but it's actually the only good reason I've thought of so far for joining FB.

Posted by: talleyl | September 24, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse


Enjoy these moments in life when you think you are special enough to tell your parents what to do. As you get older, you will discover they are the only ones in life that have your back for you - your employers of the future will not put up with any arrogant comment. Reading what you wrote makes me sad because I see how narcisstic kids can be - and how much they have to learn.

Posted by: steven7753 | September 24, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm afraid I don't have the slightest sympathy for young Adam here. He has every technical solution in the world, he doesn't use them. What happened to Net-savvy youth? Also, there is no age demarcation for people who are foolish enough to be revealing on social-networking sites. And if they are? If they are stupid enough, young or old, to post embarrassing comments, nude pix, or anything else of the kind, publicly or privately on the Net? Then they deserve every single result, from mild to extreme. It's only Darwin's laws in action if you are really, truly that stupid to use a social-networking site with your full name and photo. Who forced you?

Posted by: Leila1 | September 24, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

One rule of life almost always applies: if you want to keep something personal and private, don't do it in public.

When you post on Facebook (or a blog, or a website, or send a letter or an email to a politician or a newspaper), you make yourself a public figure and get to enjoy all the perqs of being one, which include people, some of them seemingly crazy, commenting on you.

Posted by: LisaJain1 | September 24, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

There's a big difference in judgement and personal responsibility between a high school senior and an 8th-grader. I let my 13/14 year old daughters on FB only if they friended me. It was an enlightening experience! I avoided making posts on their walls for the most part. Many adult relatives (20's and up)also friended my girls. It provided many opportunities to discuss what's appropriate to post publicly and what isn't, how to use and manage privacy settings, and how to avoid getting viruses. I think it's important for parents to keep an eye on FB until the kids have demonstrated that they know how to be responsible online. After all, nobody has 500+ real friends.

Posted by: MWood81 | September 24, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I thoroughly enjoyed Adam's article. I was -- as the kids say -- "ROTFL"!!!! I have to admit I am a parent guilty of perusing Facebook on a regular basis. I have (thankfully) been allowed to "friend" three daughters (ages 32, 30 and 25), my nieces and nephews (ranging in age from 12 to 40), as well as other family members. I had to agree, though, not to be shocked, bewildered or offended by anything I read -- and have since been instructed not to make "mother" comments. Since I AM a mother and makes that somewhat hard for me to do, I don't generally comment at all. But the great thing about "invading" Facebook is that it allows me to keep up with everyone's life, and since nobody appears to be engaged in any kind of criminal activity and except for the occasional rant, most of what I read is "general audience" rated.

I might add that as an added bonus to being on Facebook with family and friends, I met for the first time in my life a nephew I'd never met -- and didn't know of prior to his "friend request" -- a result of a name search he had performed. That led to an incredibly wonderful family reunion this past summer -- and all because I became a Facebook mother!

Posted by: Tootsumi | September 24, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

At 38 I am FaceBook friends with my 17 year old niece. I said, "I'm one of the old people ruining FaceBook, right?" And she said, "Oh no.. it's those elementary school kids!" So maybe they should get off too...

Posted by: Xdm1 | September 24, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Facebook began at Harvard, just for those students; then it added UVA, and gradually other universities before moving to the general population. The folks who began Facebook are know almost 30 themselves! Social networking is not confined to certain age groups. It has been very beneficial for me, although my twenty-something daughters are not happy about me (and others they know) being on. I look at it like other forms of entertainment - we all use it to suit ourselves. Teens should get over this misplaced ownership of social media.

Posted by: lydandy | September 24, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Adam, you are also suffering from geographical bias. Many people, like me, are uncles who have nieces and nephews around the country, not to mention brothers and sisters and aunts and cousins and so forth.

While I can see your idea that people who live with you may have an advantage over you by reading your comments, those who live far away have this as an unique way to keep the extended family together. I keep in contact with the 30 something nieces and fifteen year old grand niece, that otherwise would not be in communication with me.

"Sorrows shared are sorrows halved, and joys shared are joys doubled" This is what families do. Enjoy the interaction on Facebook, and encourage them to participate.

Uncle Lee

Posted by: LeeH1 | September 24, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Kiddo. My generation built Friendster. My generation built the web browser. My generation owns most of the companies you love on the internet. And my kids want to use facebook too. Get in line, it's ours, not yours.

Posted by: bbcrock | September 24, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse


Like. Like. Like. Like. Like.

I am a facebook purist. If you were older than 25 in 2004 when it started, YOU SHOULD NOT BE ON FACEBOOK.

(I am aware that I am in the small minority and that I will just have to deal with the fact that old people are on and will continue to be on Facebook. But know that you look ridiculous to this 23 year old.)

Posted by: wevans11 | September 24, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Much easier solution.

* Accept all the family/ adult friend requests, but group your family and misc. adults into a separate group.
* Use your privacy settings to let family have access to certain things but not others. For example, block status updates if you are prone to posting things like "Sneaking out window at midnight."

Problem solved.

Unless, of course, your friends leave their Facebook page up and another Mom sees it and calls your parents.

Posted by: LynnDeanne | September 24, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Adam, I can assure you that once you leave the nest and go to college, you will feel differently. I wish Facebook had existed when I was in college, so I could have stayed in better touch with my parents, brother and extended family.

Posted by: Caitlin41282 | September 24, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I am having a really hard time figuring out who are stupider, shallower people, revealing Facebook users or obsessive texter/noisy cell phone users. It was pleasant to read about one of the latter falling into a filthy manhole recently as she neglected to look where she was going. Would that there were an equivalent punishment for the FB set.

Posted by: Leila1 | September 24, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm 53, and am on FB, it's a way I can keep up with family members that I rarely see. Sorry, Adam, people older than high school built the internet and we DO use it. You can set up a private yahoo group for your personal acquaintances.

Posted by: Alex511 | September 24, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

@wevans11 -- you are hysterical!

* Unless you were enrolled in Harvard in 2004, you, too, are late to the party. What makes you think those original users -- who are now in late twenties/thirties -- want you online?

* Re "know that you look ridiculous to this 23 year old." That's just so precious!! We already know that we look ridiculous to 23 year olds. How do we know? Because we found our parents and grandparents ridiculous!

Thanks for the laugh!!

Posted by: LynnDeanne | September 24, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Are these the same teens that laugh at adults because they lack tecnological savvy and just don't "get it"? Guess what? We got it and we use it.

Posted by: ronjaboy | September 24, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm 46 and use FB to keep in touch w/ old classmates, friends I don't see very often, and some family members. However, I did as the author did and ignored my mother's friend request. I want to keep my personal life separate from my mom. Will do the same to my dad if he ever joins FB. When my kids are older and on FB, I will fully honor their wishes and not friend them on FB if they don't want me to!

Posted by: carusocm | September 24, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

BTW wevans11, we know. But more power to ya! Keep those SSA checks coming, bro!

Posted by: ronjaboy | September 24, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Well, Adam, you're 17, so I guess you have one more year on FB before, by your own standards, it's time for you to get off. Enjoy the rest of this year.

As for me, I joined to find old high school and college friends. I've never made any attempt to friend any of my kids' friends -- those I've friended came looking for me. Glad to see those kids were raised with a bit more class than Adam apparently was.

If you don't want adults -- you know, those people just a few months older than you, Adam? -- looking at your FB page, there's an easy solution, even if apparently takes an adult to explain it to you. Don't friend adults. Problem solved.

Now, stop wasting your time worrying about this and start worrying about growing up.

Posted by: Jayne | September 24, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I love FB (I'm in my early 50's), but most of my communication is with ex-coworkers, old school chums, etc. I'm friends with many family members, including my one and only child who is 26. I probably check out his page less than any other....if I want to know what's going on with him, I'll usually call or IM.

Based on the above posts, the concensus seems to be: feel free to be yourself, but don't post any info/pics/etc. that you wouldn't be proud to show any friends, family members, or any adult in a role of authority. If you really want to share questionable information, pick up the phone and call your closest confidante!!

Posted by: Jules57 | September 24, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Adam is slightly wrong - LinkedIn is for professional networking - Facebook is for adults to keep in touch with friends too!

I forced my son to friend me so I could keep an eye on the whole FB thing early on - I was concerned about the FACT that employers, later down the line, will do their best to see your FB posts to try to get a good picture of you. So I got an account and linked up with my son with that intention.

Well, he got even by just blocking me from seeing anything, but I had seen enough to see that it was OK and his posts looked pretty harmless.

The interesting thing though is that I discovered a TON of people I knew on there, and best of all many were high school classmates or ex-neighbors that I have wanted to keep in touch with for a long time.

I also 'friended' some kids who were my son's age or near it, several of them because they were in our boy scout troop, and whether it is the quality of the person in boy scouts or something else, I find that most of them had very little problem with it and have exchanged some emails, witty posts, replies, and other FB items with many of them.

So I don't think there should be hard and fast generational divisions for it to be enjoyed and used by everybody. If the younger kids have a problem with it, they should either A) clean up their posts, or B) filter out the adults from seeing what they do not want them to see - put them in a limited group.

I tend to filter who I 'friend' based upon it being personal or professional - I keep the professional stuff on LinkedIn mostly.

Posted by: TinkerToy1 | September 24, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I love how Adam thinks he knows everything about adults, whose FB pages, he states, are only for networking. I happen to be an adult, and my page exists solely to keep in touch with friends and family. IMO, Facebook and work should not mix. My mom and my dad are both my FB friends, and now that I'm past the "OMG, parents are so embarrassing!" stage (Adam, you'll probably exit this stage around age 19), I enjoy having them involved. And it's kind of cute to watch my parents try to navigate FB. Like when my dad put my name as his status by accident (bc he thought it was the search box).

I also agree that anything you don't want your parents to see probably shouldn't be sitting out there on the Internet anyway.

You're a very good writer, Adam. I'm sure you'll come up with some solid arguments as you grow and mature. :) At least you're already more mature than wevans11.

Posted by: Megan1996 | September 24, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Oh, please. Grow up!

Oh! I see. You are STILL growing up. Well, give yourself another 30 years and look back at this. You'll see what I mean if you don't get it now.

Posted by: MarriedMann | September 24, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh, darling boy. LinkedIn is for networking...

Posted by: Fruitfly1 | September 24, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm on Facebook, a mother and grandmother, and I'm on because my kids asked me to join. I have never requested that anyone, other than people I know, be my friend. Lots of my kids friends have friended me and I must say, I love reading their posts, but I don't comment, I think it would embarrass them. These are some very bright, creative young people and I really enjoy leaning these wonderful things about them.

If you don't want your mom seeing your posts, put her in a group that is off-limits to most of your conversations, and tell your friends to do the same with their parents. Duh....

Posted by: momj47 | September 24, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I think wevans11 comment is quite interesting. When he or she becomes 25 and they introduce a new networking site will they honor the same rule and not join? I can't tell you how many individuals in the 21-24 age range want me to add them on LinkedIn. It's a different kind of networking site, but it is still networking. Guess what won't always be 23 just like Adam won't always be 17! Contrary to popular belief, social networking is not the be all end all of innovation using the internet..there will be something else. It will be created when you're an adult and I'll be money that you will want to use it.

Posted by: negee99 | September 24, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse thankful for the conversations and comments you DO have from your parents. They could just give a card and a birthday cake and kick you to the streets, like so many other kids in this country.
The key word here is THANKFUL.
I wish there was a Facebook to have talked to my dad before he died.

Posted by: daddio195666 | September 24, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Adam, but Facebook's found it's niche - and that's the 'best face forward' model where you only post things that you're proud of. That goes across generations, from ages 9-99.

You need to get a MySpace page if you really need to post online recounts of your underage drinking, etc. No self-respecting adult would ever get a MySpace page.

Posted by: ReginaldSmash | September 24, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

It's too bad Adam thinks his aunt has no interest in his accomplishments, and it's equally a shame that he has no interest in hers.

However, apart from this prize piece of teenage self-absorption, Adam does have a point, somewhat. As a young adult with a significant other whose family is both very conservative and on Facebook, I find it difficult to reconcile my desire to express myself with the desire not to have my comments or photos deleted or untagged because of my SO's fear that his parents will be upset by what they find. Did I mention that he, too, is an adult? If, as a parent, you desire to feel connected with your child, do so in a personal and appropriate setting. Do not utilize Facebook as a monitoring device for your children and their friends, particularly if they are old enough to have their own lives!

Posted by: foofoo231 | September 24, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

In all honesty, the problem with Facebook is you, the teenager.

Everything was fine before they allowed high school students to join.

Posted by: thornwalker1 | September 24, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

My personal policy is that adults should friend their underage kids, occasionally look to make sure nothing bad is going on, but not post things on their walls. My nieces and nephews have friended me, and then blocked my posts from their newsfeed, which suits me just fine. I was able to see one nephew just starting out on a job search, whose profile picture was him doing shots. I reminded him through a private email that potential employers would not be favorably impressed. That was enough to remind him that FB is just too public for such stuff.

By the way, I have forbidden my husband from commenting on my wall, because that kind of personal stuff is just between us. He just doesn't get it.

Posted by: rosepetals64 | September 24, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

*Shrug*. I've been on FB for about 6 months now, after resisitng for a while. I'm 33. I was in college in the internet explosion, so as an adult I probably have more net experience and savvy than you do. Please, Adam, remember that the internet wasn't invented by your generation.

I agree (to a point - you are still a minor and your parents are responsible for you) that everyone should have their own social circle, and you'll find as you get older that you won't mind, or even welcome, your parents as your online friends. I'm glad mine are, because they live 1,000 miles away from me and I miss them. I'll be darned if they didn't finally get their own awesome life in Florida after they got my sister and I through college. You'll probably be suprised but your parents will do something similar to you one day, too. Besides, you're almost an adult, so I wouldn't snark too hard on us.

Posted by: Mazarin | September 24, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Just a few questions for Adam on his entertaining commentary: Isn't it your parents whose money allows you to access facebook in the first place (that is, they pay for your Internet connection)? Who pay for your computer? Your cell phone? Most kids' parents were on the Internet long before their children knew what the Internet was (depending on the parents' ages). Just remember: Until you turn 18, those who giveth can taketh away

Posted by: woebegoner | September 24, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Hi Adam, I agree with zickezacke - it seems like you're undervaluing your relationships with your family members and other adults. I'm 39 and have nieces and nephews who are in their 20s and teens. We usually only get to see each other once a year at holidays. I cherish being able to "keep up" with them on FB. I'm not going to swoop in every time they post something a little R rated or whatever - fortunately, I get to be the aunt, not the mom. But this way I am a little more in the loop so when I do see or talk to them, I can ask them about stuff that's meaningful to them, rather than the boring old "what did you do on your summer vacation" kind of conversations I used to have with my older relatives when I was young(er). If you have specific boundaries you'd like your relatives to respect, why not negotiate with them directly, rather than through a WP article? :-) I used to take my family for granted, but then when the tough times came, which they inevitably do for everyone at some point, I realized just how valuable they can be.

Posted by: barose1 | September 24, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

If Adam is concerned about adults seeing his information because it is "unrefined" he needs a dose of reality. That "unrefined" page is going to come back to haunt him when he is older. He also needs to learn how to interact and deal with adults. For someone that should have his act together (school paper, "It's Academic" team ,and plays guitar and keyboards in a rock band). He strike me as very immature. He "deals" with things by ignoring them? Not the right way to deal with a request from his mother, or any adult that pays his way.

Posted by: mdembski1 | September 24, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

But how do you handle the fact that the original members of Facebook are now having kids. Should they no longer belong or disconnect once their kids are old enough. Just do what the other teens I know do, filter your posts - it's not that hard.

Facebook has been a great way for our extended family to connect and I love the fact that my Aunts, Uncles and even my parents are on.

Posted by: mcleve | September 24, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I agree parents shouldn't be friends with their kids on Facebook but I also think that high school kids should be on mySpace, not FB. Facebook was started for college kids and we just stayed on after graduating. (I'm not a parent but being on FB and other sites will help them understand that it's not just other kids that are drinking, having sex and bashing their peers inappropriately online. The "it's not my kid" syndrome would vanish.)

Posted by: thedoo-da-man | September 24, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

In general I have to agree with Adam. However, perhaps the answer is in creating different friend lists and then adjusting the privacy settings.

Posted by: ncc1701d | September 24, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Good article, and I suspect a number of we middle-aged folks understand what you are saying more than you might give us credit for. My only FB account is solely for 5 cousins 3000 miles away from me. Two are middle-age, one late 20s and two are in college. It has proven to be a great way to be in touch with them. They readily agreed to this and I love it. However, I never will go on FB as many people do, exposing my life to the universe. Be careful about that, as it does come back to bite you.

Posted by: shadowshopper1981 | September 24, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Hi Adam,

I'm 56 and I occasionally use FB.

What I want to say is this: YOU ARE A TERRIFIC WRITER. Hope you keep it up. Your perspective was fun to read.

Posted by: Maggie56 | September 24, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Adam: Your aunt actually does care about your last basketball game. And wouldn't it be nice if you cared about her promotion?

Posted by: KarenInVa | September 24, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

When I was a 'teen -- LONG before the electronic/communications revolution -- I used to save up my nickels and dimes to go around to the pay booth at the local pharmacy to have conversations with my friends, so the adults in my house could not hear my end of the conversation. (Yes, nickels and dimes is all it cost for a phone call in those days.) The First Amendment covers ALL of us, even adults on Facebook. 'Teens need to be more inventive. How 'bout talking to your friends face-to-face? Now there's a novel idea.

Posted by: TESimonton | September 24, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Sure, go ahead and accept friend requests from your parents and relatives. I just change privacy settings to control what they can and can't see. Of course, most kids these days aren't especially smart about what they put out there about themselves, so it's a good idea to monitor who can and can't see things like your status, wall, and photos.

Posted by: futbolclif | September 24, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Try this on for size: I don't friend my kids because I don't want them snooping in my life. With all of the time wasted on text messages, IM, and facebook, etc, you CHILDREN are even luck to have access to the computer your mommy and daddy gave you. If facebook had a fee, you and the other CHILDREN would be running to mommy and daddy for the money. It's a joke that CHILDREN are even on facebook. you see your chums everyday or, as stated above [over]use the other tools you have to stay connected to all of your "critical" CHILDREN'S issues. Facebook IS for your parent's generation...people that really have a past and can benefit from this method of reconnecting with people from a REAL past.

Posted by: postreader64 | September 24, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the age insecurities are rampant in these comments! Reading this article makes me feel like a teenager again. I need to go read some J.D. Salinger. Seriously, guys, he's a teenager venting about the frustrations of having adults scrutinizing his social life. From these posts, I can see why. The last time I checked, we were all 17 once and thought adults were trying to control our lives. Kudos to the Post for featuring the work of high schooler. I'm glad to see them trying to reach out to the younger generation.

Posted by: kato55 | September 24, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm not quite sure how other commenters expect you to set up a separate account for family. Having more than one account is against FB terms of service.
In my case, it's the adults who don't keep things private. My aunt posts all kinds of things on facebook during the day, and I end up hearing how my grandmother's cancer treatment is going before my parents can give me an update. In fact, one day I learned that a beloved relative had died while I was at work. Everybody needs to be considerate of others and watch what they say.

Posted by: dragnchic9 | September 24, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm an adult who joined Facebook a few years ago because my two other younger adult siblings invited me. Our parents also have a Facebook account and we use it to keep up with eachother since we live so far apart. We can exchange messages, send photos, post videos, etc.

I have also used Facebook as a networking tool to connect with my professional colleagues. Lots of professional and educational organizations use it as a marketing tool. I've also connected with my entire high school class and their 20th reunion was organized via Facebook.

Bottom line - it's quite naive and selfish to think that Facebook belongs to the teen generation. Does this mean that when you turn 20 you will stop using Facebook?

Good of you to share your perspective, but broaden your horizons a bit and realize that your Facebook experience is what you make it.

Posted by: HappyNewlyWed | September 24, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Stop whining, you spoiled brat. Who pays the ISP bill?

Posted by: treadlefish | September 24, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Adam, I'm sorry to hear you are too absorbed in commenting on your friends meaningless photos to care about a family member's promotion. One day you will.

I'm also sorry that you feel your mother wanting to be involved in your life is absurd. I suppose everyone goes through that stage, however most people don't publish their lack of caring for their family. I'm not all that far removed from my high school days. But it seems that we have reached a pretty sorry state that a mother must friend her son in order to see what's going on in his life.

Adam, just realize that facebook has made the things that people used to cherish absolutely meaningless. Now you can literally hang your mother in online limbo. To put this into more antiquated terms, that's like having her there in front of you, asking how your day went, and staring right past her.

Posted by: Rainier1 | September 24, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Computer programmer and participated in the design of a Social Network site back in the late 1990's. I did not become a meber until 2001. By then this site was floded with 20 somethings, college kids and a few teenagers. there were some older folk like me in my 40's, but the majority treated us as if we didn't belong. We rwere often called diosaurs or other disparaging remarks. But what got to me was how hard it was to get anybody to reply to your posts.

Posted by: hjoseph77 | September 24, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Hey Adam - when you started high school, is about the time when Facebook began allowing high school students to legitimately become Facebook members. Well maybe a year later, I'm not sure. So it wasn't originally intended for teenagers at all. But I became a facebook member a year before you got to high school, and when I posted family photos on FB, my then third class midshipman (sophmore in civilian terms) at the Naval Academy 'friended' me. He wanted his friends to be able to see his pictures!! I abhor parents who post like you wrote about, and I don't think FB was meant to replace a real personal relationship. But adults , kids, and teens can get along. . . facebook makes it easy - block!

Posted by: anewman1 | September 24, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Facebook started out as a college network, so go back to MySpace, you little brat!

Posted by: nuzuw | September 24, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Parent tells High School Senior: Shut up and clean your room....


Posted by: JkR- | September 24, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

This kid seems to think that the world revolves around him. Guess what? It doesn't. I am twice your age and I get a friend request from people your age about three times a month. Your generation does not own Facebook.

Posted by: MKadyman | September 24, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

This kid seems to think that the world revolves around him. Guess what? It doesn't. I am twice your age and I get a friend request from people your age about three times a month. Your generation does not own Facebook.

Posted by: MKadyman | September 24, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Teens, young adults will go out into the world, and they will not come in contact with JUST teens and young adults. FB is no exception. EVERYONE NEEDS TO GET ALONG.
Healing this country is EVERYONES RESPONSIBILITY. Now, I agree that teens should be thinking of their future, and getting their homework done. Socializing can wait til Saturday and Sunday. Just saying.

Posted by: judypease | September 24, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Nobody posting here seems to understand the FB generational difference. For "grown-ups," Facebook is a convenient way for families and friends to keep in touch. Hence, all the grandparents, aunts, and uncles attacking a 17-year-old--who should be, first and foremost, commended for being published in the Washington Post!--for not appreciating them enough. Adam's generation and those slightly older than he use Facebook differently than his elders do. It's not so much a way for grandma and grandson to communicate as an independent social arena, like a virtual club or cafe. I see where Adam's coming from, generationally. Parents on Facebook, for him, would be like his parents actually hanging out with him at a party. Super lame, pretty weird, and almost creepy.

I get you, Adam. Sometimes parents just don't understand...
(Some hilarious generational humor for you there!)

Bravo on your publication!

Posted by: puckster2 | September 24, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

FB allows you to set up lists of friends, at which point you can use your privacy settings to control who sees which postings. Perhaps Adam should check the FB help pages to learn how to do this.

Posted by: ncc1701d | September 24, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Well Adam,

You have heard from the world. Approve my "friend" request already.

Good work son. You're my hero. Love Mum.

Posted by: my2cents87 | September 24, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

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