Blocking Someone on Facebook is like Blocking Them Out of Your Life

As seen in AM New York, "Some kids definitely have a church/state feeling when it comes to Facebook, and they want to keep their parents out."

During a recent dinner, Daryl Smolens called her daughter Ali and asked her to tell the friend she was dining with to have fun in Boston this weekend.” “I turn to him and say, ‘I didn’t know you were going to Boston,’” recalled Ali. “My mom already knew because she had read it on Facebook, and here I am sitting next to him and I didn’t even know!” The 25-year-old West Villager said it’s “100 percent” annoying when her mom knows more about what her friends are doing on Facebook than she does. And she’s not alone. As Facebook’s popularity spikes among all generations, more parents are getting involved in their kids’ online lives — and it’s not always welcome.

“Without fail, every time I sign on to Facebook, my mom already has commented on one of my friends’ status — even before I’ve had a chance to see it for the first time,” said Ali. “I’ve known Ali’s friends forever,” said Daryl, 63, of the Upper East Side. “They are always at our house hanging out … not always with Ali around. “I did tell Ali I would stop commenting on her friends’ status, but, you know, I’m a mother.”

Wendy Sachs, editor in chief of Care.com, a parenting website, said: "Parents want to stay connected to their kids, and Facebook offers an often unedited look into what’s really going on in their lives.” Many parents with younger children insist on having access to their Facebook page to ward off cyberbullying or other inappropriate activity. In an October, 2010 Care.com survey, one in three parents of children 12 to 17 years old said they feared their kids being cyberbullied more than kidnapping, suicide, car accidents or terrorism.

Cyberbullying has terrified parents, so monitoring is becoming increasingly important,” said Sachs, who has a 9-year-old son. But even she knows the drawbacks to giving parents permission to view your Facebook page. “As a child of divorced parents, an innocuous post of a piece I wrote followed by a humorous comment by my dad led to a bitter comment from my mother,” Sachs said.

“I ended up deleting the post and almost de-friending my mom on Facebook.” Mark LoCastro knows that Facebook feuds can mushroom into larger family feuds. The 28-year-old Lower East Side resident wanted some privacy, so he limited access to his profile. But when his dad’s girlfriend discovered that she was blocked, things went south. “The following day, she was real upset and contacted my dad,” he said. After a conflict, LoCastro restored her access. “I guess blocking someone important on Facebook, like a family member, is like blocking them out of your life,” he said. “People sometimes take Facebook too seriously.”

Here are some recent Facebook statistics:
Sources: Facebook's Social Ads Platforms; Retrevo.com

48% = Percentage of parents who “friend” their kids on Facebook

15,516,780 = Number of active Facebook users age 55 and over as of January, 2011

58.9% = Growth in the 55+ age group on Facebook between January, 2010 and January, 2011

45,406,460 = Number of active Facebook users ages 18 to 24 as of January, 2011 — the biggest user group

4,369,820 = Number of people in New York City who have a Facebook account

55% = Percentage of Facebook users who are women

43.4% = Percentage of Facebook users are men

71.2% = Percentage of people in the U.S. with an Internet connection — 206.2 million — are on Facebook

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