Social networking sites, first embraced by youth, have become increasingly popular among older generations. With more parents joining the sites, young people today are likely to encounter their parents on these platforms. However, there is limited information about how youth respond to the changing landscape, especially during the transition to a residential college, when parental support is particularly important but parent-child interaction may be disrupted by geographical distance. Drawing on literature of college transition, youth’s relationship with parents, and “context collapse,” this study explores how college freshmen react to parents’ participation in Facebook. Fifty-one semistructured interviews were conducted with 28 first-year students attending a major residential U.S. university (age M = 18.14, SD = 0.45; 50% female; 75% White, 11% multiethnic, 7% Asian, and 7% Latino). Findings showed that college freshmen overwhelmingly accepted parents and family adults as their Facebook Friends and offered them equal access as that offered to peers. Facebook provided a space for college freshmen and parents to bond and express affections, although freshmen sometimes considered family adults as being overresponsive or overreactive to Facebook posts. The implications of “friending” parents on Facebook for college freshmen’s privacy negotiation, parent-child relationship, and identity development are discussed.
Journal of Adolescent Research – SAGE
Published: Jul 1, 2018
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