The digital divide — children and their parents

24 05 2011

I find it wildly ironic that the one of the new communication tools that young people use actually makes it a little easier for parents to keep tabs on their children.

If you’re a parent, you know that as your children get older, it’s harder and harder to find out what they’re doing, who their friends are, and what they’re doing when they’re not in school or at work.

Well, the folks at The Onion think it’s easier than ever to keep tabs on our kids by using Facebook.

While that was definitely a tongue-in-cheek portrayal, I know parents who have done this. Not me. Really. I swear.  I don’t stalk, but I do admit to using Facebook to communicate. After all, young people are using Facebook in staggering numbers.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project says 72 percent of those 18- to 29-year-olds who are online are using Facebook.

Additionally, istrategylabs reports that as of January 2011, in the United States there were 13 million Facebook users aged 13-17, 45 million users 18-24, and 33 million users 25-34.

Neither my son, who’s 20, nor my youngest stepson, who’s 27, uses Facebook very often. But, it is a useful communications tool for all of us.

My son uses it to reach me. He’ll post a message to my wall, asking me if I’m going to be in the office, if I’m free for lunch, or if I can print something for him. (Although, I do wonder why he just doesn’t call me at my office.)

My stepson works two full-time jobs and rarely answers his phone, so my husband and I don’t see or talk to him very often.  I use Facebook to reach him, usually in the form of a wall post inviting him to dinner. However, when I send those invitations, I do notice his status. For example, I knew before his dad that his pipes had frozen and burst one winter morning. I noticed when his status changed from “in a relationship” to “single,” and I knew the day he was going to get his new bull mastiff puppy.

Keeping tabs on them? Not me. But communicating with them? Sure. It’s a brave new world.

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4 responses

24 05 2011
lorinion

I used to think that a Facebook message or wall post was a ‘lazy’ method of communication. If a friend has my phone number then I would respond faster to a text or phone call rather than leaving a Facebook message. But Facebook has been seamlessly integrated with phones via text updates or apps that returning a message on Facebook is just as fast as a text or phone call.

I’m just glad my parents don’t understand how to use Facebook or text messaging, or care to try for that matter. Majority of my relatives 45+ rarely use a computer and they find the means of a phone call much faster. I think it must be the Filipino culture as well; my mom and dad don’t believe in e-mail, texting, or Facebook because it’s too much to learn compared to a simple phone call. I guess they’re more ‘traditional.’

Great post! I definitely had to think about how different cultures are more accepting of social media compared to others.

25 05 2011
imcpat

And to prove my point, my son just posted a message on my Facebook page, asking what I was doing for lunch. So, we made plans on Facebook to meet for lunch this afternoon.

Five years ago, we may have made lunch plans via email. Ten years ago, we probably would have made lunch plans using the telephone.

It makes me wonder how we’ll be making lunch plans five years from now.

What do you think?

16 06 2011
Matt

I like your last comment about how will be communicating in five years. So true.

My children are not old enough where I am comfortable with them having FB accounts, my eldest is 9, so I have not run into this situation. However, I can see where it would be useful down the road. If FB has not been taken over, same as how FB ran over My Space.

16 06 2011
imcpat

One of the most frightening and exciting aspects of my job is the ever-changing communication channels. So much has changed in just five years.

It’s frightening because there is a certain level of comfort in doing the same thing day after day and not having to fret about the latest new thing.

But, it’s exciting because all of these new channels enable us to reach people in ways we’ve never been able to before.

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