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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 09/25/2009

THE LIST: Readers Sound Off About Facebook

By Valerie Strauss

Seventeen-year-old Adam Turay was a guest on The Answer Sheet yesterday with a post on the intersection of kids and adults on Facebook. The Answer Sheet found Adam’s post delightful and funny, though some of the scores of people who commented appeared to be less than enchanted.

The headline on the post, which was NOT written by Adam, may have done him a disservice. It said: “High School Senior Tells Adults: Get Off Facebook.”

Here's an excerpt of what he DID write:

“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."

Here are some of the Sheet's favorite comments sparked by Adam's post:

1) 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 [on the other hand], 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

2) 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....
Posted by: AmitDC

3) 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

4) 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

5) I agree with Adam, and I’m the 40-yr-old aunt whose promotion is of little interest to my 16-yr-old nephew.....
Posted by: chunche

6) ....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...... 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

7) 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

8) ...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.
Posted by: TinkerToy1

9) 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.... 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

10) 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

By Valerie Strauss  | September 25, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Bloggers  | Tags:  facebook  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Why So Many People are So Angry At Arne Duncan
Next: Accountability in Education: High Hopes and False Promises


One of the things that Adam needs to understand is that he cannot control who others let be their friends on Facebook. His first complaint was that his friend's mother commented (somewhat gushily) on one of his friend's photos. If his friend let his mother be a friend, there is nothing Adam can do about that. Maybe Adam's friend even WANTS his mother to be a friend. Adam's viewpoint is just that-his viewpoint. There are teenagers on Facebook with a different viewpoint, and if Adam is friends with any of them, he may run into comments by their parents and other relatives.
Adam has several ways to deal with his own mother wanting to be his friend. He can leave her in limbo, he can turn down her friend request and probably have to have a conversation with her as to why, or he can accept it and put her in a group that can only see limited things. Facebook does allow one user the capability to have different groups of "friends" with different viewing capabilities.

Posted by: Puzzler1 | September 26, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

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