When Matt Florian signed onto his Facebook account recently to check the status of his 400-plus friends, he had a friend request.
It was from his dad.
The junior at Sherwood High School in Montgomery County, Md., didn't panic. No. He simply took a deep breath and pondered his options.
He could accept it. He could ignore it. He could accept it, but limit the parts of his Facebook profile his dad could see. He pondered more. What were the social implications of "friending" your folks?
Across the country, Facebook users are contemplating similar questions when they log onto their accounts. More and more moms and dads are signing onto Facebook to keep up with their offspring. Not only are they friending (or attempting to friend) their sons and daughters, they're friending their sons' and daughters' friends.
Some, like Matt, take the requests in stride. He ultimately friended his dad. Others are less sanguine, voicing their dismay via online groups that decry parental intrusion and offer tips on how to screen out mom and dad. ("Just go onto their computers and delete their accounts." "Just don't add them as a friend or any1 that is a co-worker with ur parents duh.") Even parenting experts are getting involved, offering their own tips on proper Facebook etiquette.
For a generation accustomed to sharing everything online, it might seem odd that two more pairs of eye would raise such concern. But Steve Jones, a professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago who has studied digital culture extensively, said there's a difference between the world and your parents.
"What they want to keep most private is not something they wish to keep from strangers, it's the things they want to keep from people that know them," he said. "It's 'I don't care what someone who doesn't know me finds out. But I do care about what someone I know intimately (does).'"