Facebook started off as a place to connect with college friends, then evolved to let you connect with essentially anyone in the world—including family.
We all know what that means: Life has never been the same since Mom and Dad got on Facebook.
Facebook research scientist Moira Burke and University of Michigan associate professor Lada Adamic recently analyzed interactions between parents and their children.
The questions they explored included who friends whom, who initiates conversation with whom, and what they actually say to each other.
In terms of friending behavior within families, here are some key stats:
- Children aged 13 to 17 are more likely to send a friend request to their parents
- More than 65% of friendships between 13-year-olds and their parents are initiated by the child
- Only 40% of children in their early to mid-20s send friend requests to their parents
- 50% of children in their mid-40s initiate Facebook friendships with their parents
The "overall trend follows the rough arc of children seeking distance from their parents as they prepare to leave the nest, and then gradually gravitating back as they accomplish their own milestones in life," Burke writes .
Burke also found that daughters post on their parents' profiles—"Timelines," in Facebook parlance—nearly as often as their parents post on their own profiles. But that's not the case with sons. Parents typically post more on their sons' profiles than sons do on their parents'.
Parents and their kids also interact by commenting on each others' photos and shared links, and sharing videos with each other.
Burke also aggregated comments and Timeline posts over the last two months to find out what kids and their parents say to each other.
In general, there's lots of words of encouragement, expressions of gratitude, and reminders to take care and be safe.
Facebook hasn't changed a lot, in other words—just how we say it.
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