Ronda Kaysen: More than 70 percent of parents are online "friends" with their kids, but nearly 30 percent of teens would unfriend their parents if they could -- and mom is the one they want to see go, with twice as many teens saying that, given the choice, they'd unfriend mom before dad. Ouch!
According to an AOL survey, most teens are not pleased with having mom on their Facebook page, free to add wall postings, upload pictures and put a "like this" on just about everything they have to say. If Facebook is this generation's regular social gathering, having your mom turn up on your profile page is akin to having her crash a high-school party and start chatting up your friends.
But the survey also uncovered a more worrisome trend: More than half of all teens don't actually know all of their so-called "friends" personally. With predators trolling the Internet for unsuspecting kids, it's no wonder moms are buddying up to their sons and daughters.
For many parents, however, keeping tabs on their kids' online safety is easier said than done. Only about a third of parents surveyed felt that they were "on top of things," and even those parents worried that they weren't seeing everything. Eighteen percent felt it was tricky and too time-consuming to keep up, and more than 40 percent said they knew less than half of their kids' online friends.
So what's a mom to do when her kid is mortified that she's hanging out on their Facebook page -- and she doesn't particularly want to be there, anyway? (I mean, moms do have better things to do than monitor a bunch of 14-year-olds gabbing!) Well, AOL is peddling a new product called "Safe Social." It costs about $10 a month and allows parents to monitor their kids' online activity -- including pictures they've been tagged in and information about people who friend them -- without having to actually be "friends" with their kids.
"I think parents are looking to strike a happy medium between giving their kids the independence to enjoy things like Facebook and being a responsible parent," said AOL consumer adviser Regina Lewis. "Consumers have been waiting for a realistic solution -- like 'Safe Social' -- that lets teens be teens and parents be parents."
Moms of teens, this one's for you: How do you keep your kids safe online without suffocating them?