It might take 371 days for your mom to friend you on Facebook

This is kind of old, but I just learned about it. Sue me. Facebook did a study on family dynamics within the site –utilizing millions of users — and found a bunch of interesting stuff, but perhaps most notably this: on average, parent-child pairs wait 371 days after joining Facebook to become official friends. DA FUQ? That’s an entire year! This study wasn’t just based on older, adult children — so you’re talking about a situation where high school kids are living in the house, realize their mom/dad is actually on Facebook, but aren’t doing anything about it. Talk about an awkward dance.

Some have argued that parents/grandparents joining Facebook is leading to the site’s “teenager problem,” but that’s not entirely true. First of all, I’m not sure Facebook has a significant user base problem, seeing as how it has over 1 billion of ’em. Second of all, technology works like that: things get big, and other things come along that are cooler and “disrupt” them. That’s what you see now with stuff like Snapchat (which Facebook tried to buy) and Instagram (which it did). Those have higher levels of engagement, purportedly, because they offer a simple, easy-to-understand-and-click environment (and let’s be honest, your mom probably isn’t on Snapchat).

I actually am friends with most of my friend’s parents on Facebook. I find it entertaining. This one girl I was friends with back in NYC, her mom used to constantly post statuses that said “What’s on your mind?” She was basically reading the Facebook prompt box and typing it back. LOL. I adore stuff like that about how some generations “don’t get it.” (By the way, there were things that generation got that their parents didn’t too; it’s been like that forever.) My mother-in-law is on Facebook and puts up some interesting stuff; my own mother probably has never turned on a computer, and my father sees no utility for something like that.

This is probably the most famous single moment in the history of “Facebook and parenting,” FYI.

I’d view that 371 figure above in 1 of 2 ways:

1. The parent generation signed up, but barely uses it (you have friends like that your own age, probably). It takes them about a year to realize, “Whoa, I could use this to see what my daughter does with her friends.”

2. With the exception of “digital natives” now having kids (35 and under, I’d reckon), very few people for this study (which happened in Sept. 2012) probably thought they’d come of age, and raise children, in a world where there was even a chance they could digitally see what was up. This is like the diary of the 1960s becoming a friggin’ Timeline with a cover photo. That’s intense. So maybe the 371 days figure is about the mom/dad side being like, “Whoa, how do we play this?”

I’d like to have kids some day, and I’d love ’em to be on whatever social media sites are out there when they grow up, and I’d love to connect with ’em on there — but I also realize, in this hypothetical years hence situation, there would need to be some rules and guidelines. I’d probably get after it in less than 371 days, though.

Ted Bauer