Remember the days when Facebook provided some respite from the prying eyes and overly concerned nagging of our parents? Suffice it to say, those days are gone. Whether it’s due to Facebook’s aging (and increasingly child-bearing) user base or simply a matter of parents becoming hipper over the years, a new Pew Research Center study reveals that a growing number of parents are using Facebook either to provide or receive “parenting-related information and social support.” In fact, according to the study, Facebook and social media at large is now viewed as “a source of useful information and as one parenting tool among a collection of options.” So start purging your profiles, kids. There’s a new cop in Facebook town.
The report notes that of the 91 percent of parents (defined in this study as those with children under the age of 18) who use the Internet, a whopping 75 percent of them are active on some form of social media, with Facebook being the most popular option (whether you have a child or not). Applying their maternal and paternal instincts online just as they would offline, parents are said to “try to respond to the good news others post, answer others’ questions or receive support via online networks. This is true for all kinds of personal matters they encounter — not just parenting posts,” making them one of the more engaged demographics on the platform.
So just how engaged are they? Stunningly, the study found that 94 percent of respondent parents have shared, posted, or commented on Facebook at some point during their lives. Mothers, however, are reported to be more likely to use Facebook than fathers — whereas 37 percent of moms say they’re on Facebook frequently, only 20 percent of dads can say the same thing.
Still, as a whole, parents are now incredibly active on Facebook, with a larger proportion of parents than non-parents logging on and interacting with content on a daily basis. As per Pew’s findings, 75 percent are daily users of Facebook, and 51 percent find themselves browsing their news feeds several times a day. In contrast, only 67 percent of non-parents check Facebook every day, and only 42 percent go on multiple times a day.
While one might assume that parents and older Facebook users as a whole use the platform to keep up with old friends (in addition to checking up on their children), Pew reports that parents are actually more likely to be friends with their own parents and their neighbors (i.e., people who they’re probably already in pretty close contact with), than average. But then again, they are also slightly more likely to be Facebook friends with people they’ve never met in person.
In any case, one thing is clear: If you’re on Facebook, chances are your mom and dad are too. So proceed with caution, Facebook friends. You never know what authority figure may be lurking around the corner.
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