Should parents "friend" their kids on Facebook?

Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:45am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - To friend or not to friend is the big question facing many parents dealing with teenagers on Facebook.

Three quarters of parents questioned in a Nielsen survey said they are friends with their children on the popular social networking website which boasts 500 million active users. But a third admitted they are worried they are not seeing everything their children are doing on the web.

Perhaps with good reason, as nearly 30 percent of teens said if given the choice they would unfriend their parents.

"The No. 1 parenting issue, as least with my discussion with parents, is living on Facebook," said Regina Lewis, a consumer adviser with online services company AOL, which jointly developed the survey.

"It is part of the modern-day parenting reality."

The average number of friends on Facebook is 130 but for teenagers it can be much higher, according to Lewis.

"I thought the percentage of parents who were friends with their kids was strikingly high. It is more than 70 percent," she said, adding that children were twice as likely to want to unfriend their mother than their father.

For some children friending a parent is not always an option. In 41 percent of households there was a rule that children who use Facebook have to be friends with their parents.

"For some parents that became a non-starter," said Lewis.   Continued...

<p>A Facebook page is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010. REUTERS/Thierry Roge</p>