Do your kids have to ‘Friend’ you on Facebook?

For some parents just having passwords isn’t enough. They want to be their kid’s “friend” too.

A new study on social networking trends and practice found that 16 percent of teens say friending their parents was a precondition for joining the social networking site.

From the AJC:

” ‘Facebook continues to be the new frontier in the ever-evolving relationship between parent and child,’ said Kristen Campbell of Kaplan Test Prep, which conducted the study.”

“Although roughly two-thirds of U.S. teenagers feel at ease having their parents friend them on Facebook, for many teens getting friended by their parents is like, OMG, sharing a tender moment with them in public.”

“Andrea Shelton has personal experience with this when she posted “Spencer, you’re the man,” recently on his wall.”

“ ‘I thought it was cute,’ said Shelton, a resident of Buckhead. ‘He was mortified and I learned a lesson: lay low, mama.’…

“Shelton, who admittedly was late coming to the site, said that friending children was some of the best advice she’d gotten.”“ ‘As much as I’d like to withdraw from this cyberworld, we’ve been thrust into it,’ she said.”

“As it were, Shelton and other parents said they’ve taken a more proactive stance and counseled against engaging in course talk or bulling, for instance, and warned that ‘whatever you put out there a future employer can use it against you.’ ”

“ ‘So far so good,’ Shelton said. ‘My big worry is what if he has another cyber- life I don’t know about.’ ”

“Then in another breath she said that in a few years, ‘Facebook is going to seem like nothing compared to driving. I understand my prayer life will increase at that moment.’ “

While Friending may seem like an easy solution, my resident Facebook expert – Michael—says that  through privacy settings and lists you can keep certain people from seeing certain status updates or photos.  He says you can save the setting to click on hide from the same people every time.

The AJC story reports:

“The study found that 65 percent of teens “are not hiding and that is positive,” said Campbell, an executive director at the company that develops college prep programs.”

“A separate survey of 973 high school students reported that of teens who said their parents were on Facebook, 56 percent provided their parents with full profile access — status updates, party photos and all — than with no access at all. Only 9 percent of teens gave their parents limited access. (The survey was conducted by e-mail of 2,313 Kaplan Test Prep students who took the SAT and/or ACT between June 2010 and December 2010”….

I recently Friended my favorite babysitter who went off to college this year. I didn’t ask her at the beginning of the year because I didn’t want her thinking the creepy 38-year-old lady is being a busy body. But she called me over Christmas break to check in and we had a lovely hour-long talk, and I wanted to show her photos of the “baby” so I just Friended her and she accepted. It is nice to be able to talk with her and for her to see my photos of the kids. I am helping her with some career contacts so Facebook makes that easier. I do like looking at her photos from college. They make me wistful. Nothing bad going on at all – she’s such a good girl.

I am also on Facebook with a 20-year-old friend who is a nanny for some kids at our school. (She texts me a lot so I am learning about texting from her.) Her posts and photos are all benign but what I have noticed is that none of her friends have any protection on their pages. I can look at all their photos. They need to change their privacy settings.

So have you required your kids to be your “friend” on Facebook? Why or why not? Do you comment on things? (Even at my age it’s funny when moms comment on their kids’ pages. They always say crazy things. I have one friend from high school whose mom is constantly harassing him to call her. It makes me laugh. I am also Friends with a lot of my friends’ moms on Facebook. I enjoy keeping in touch with the moms I grew up around. I especially enjoy one of my college roommate’s moms. She is always working on interesting things.)

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mom2alex&max

February 7th, 2011
6:38 am

Being “friends” with your kids doesn’t work in keeping tabs on them. They can be friends with you and still block you from anything sensitive. So passwords are a must.

Mine are too young for FB, but I have an alternative profile that I will be using to friend them when they join. I don’t want them up on my business! At any rate passwords will be required.

deidre_NC

February 7th, 2011
6:58 am

my kids and their friends all ‘friend’ me. i used to think it was weird but they are all right out in the open with their doings. i have hidden some of them and/or some of their posts due to bad language–i dont appreciate the ‘f’ word on my wall for everyone to see. not that i never say it….but there is a time and place. its a way to stay in touch as they grow older and see each others pictures etc….its funny…when my space first started i got an account to ’spy’ on my daughter and she immediately added me and showed me how to work it lol…people may think im stupid–but theres really not a lot going on that these kids are trying to hide from me. so its become pretty normal for their friends to add me. then people at work want to add me….that i am very selctive about.

A

February 7th, 2011
7:18 am

Thank goodness mine is too young for FB, and I hope by the time he is considered old enough the FB won’t be nearly as ubiquitous as it is today.

Me

February 7th, 2011
7:32 am

Yes, we are “Friends” with our 15-year-old on Facebook but, as @mom2alex&max accurately states, just this action alone isn’t enough. We know the passwords to his PC, his FB, online games, email, etc.
We also take the extra step of utilizing the parental controls offered by AT&T U-Verse and, in addition to this, utilize a software app that I purchased years back and then re-engineered expressly for our use. (This software will “copy” all chat messages and then send us an email of the chat content.) We aren’t even doing this “behind the scenes” as we have explained that such software exists so he is aware. Should he make the decision to not use any of the above he has the option of not being online.

motherjanegoose

February 7th, 2011
7:53 am

Not into Facebook. My daughter set up an account for me and puts things on it. I do not…LOL.
Both of mine are in college and can pretty much do what they want anyway. So far, so good.

justmy2cents

February 7th, 2011
8:01 am

My kids are too young for FB at the moment. However, I have to agree with “Me” in going the extra steps to monitor. I work in IT, and if you realllllly think that the password your kids gave you so easily is the end all, be all, you are sadly mistaken. Many kids have alternate accounts, just like Mom2 said she has. One for the parents to see, and the real one they use. Again, with the privacy settings able to be manipulated, just being their “friend” is not enough.

On a separate note…my youngest had her birthday party this weekend. One of her guests whips out her cell phone to call her mom. Why in the world does an 8 year old need a cell phone???!!!??!!

motherjanegoose

February 7th, 2011
8:08 am

@just…it’s amazing how far parents will go isn’t it? Wait until they are in HS or college. I continue to scratch my head at parents who succumb to their children’s wishes. My son did not have a cell phone until HS and my daughter got hers in MS only because it was virtually free and I would pick her up from activities, so it was handy for her to call me. Even if it is FREE, I do not think an 8 year old is responsible enough for a cell phone but I am sure some have their own laptops too.

motherjanegoose

February 7th, 2011
8:10 am

FYI…my daughter has a good friend who has her mother’s car and credit card. She had LOTS of friends last summer who stayed out WAY after midnight in downtown Atlanta. That did not happen here…they were 18.

RJ

February 7th, 2011
8:16 am

We are friends AND I have access to their accounts. Now, the reality is that they can still set up another account in a different name, although I don’t think that they have. As I told my daughter, I only check in now and then to make sure that she’s not posting something that she’ll regret in a few years when she’s trying to find a job.

usually lurking

February 7th, 2011
8:55 am

I am friends with my sons. I have always told them that they should never say anything that they wouldn’t want their grandmother to hear, and that goes for FB too, as they are friends with their grandmother. :-)

Techmom

February 7th, 2011
9:03 am

My son is 15. I have his password and I’m friends with him. I’m friends with lots of his friends too; I don’t send requests out to kids but I do get them and accept them and I’m friends with some of their parents. I rarely comment on anything the kids post unless it’s funny or I like the pictures. My son does not seem to think it’s a big deal and we even went through all the security settings together about 2 months ago to make sure only his friends could see what he was posting. My stipulation is that if he changes his password and doesn’t tell me, he will delete the account and I will cut off access so he can’t get another account (granted he could do it from school if it ever came to that but I don’t see that happening since he’s not a real secretive kid- not like I was when I was his age anyway).

I also hide certain posts and pictures that I put up from the ’student population’ and ‘work people’ groups. There are some things I don’t need to share with everyone.

Mom of older kids

February 7th, 2011
9:44 am

We are not “friends” but we have the passwords and the software to check out where he goes and what he does. He has gone some iffy places on line but when we saw it we asked him about it and he usually says “its not what I thought it was going to be”. So as long as he didn’t hang out there for hours, everyone ends up on the wrong site sometimes.

He does however have a few PLAYBOY mags in his dresser. No clothes mind you….they are all on the floor.. I haven’t desided if I am going to mention those to him or not

JATL

February 7th, 2011
9:47 am

We’re pretty far away from this issue, but when we get there my take is that if they WANT to and choose to do so, then I’ll accept their “friending.” I’m not going to force them to do it though. I’ve mentioned the filtering software my company is developing for parents to use with their pre-teens and teens in regards to social media, texting and email. We’ll probably use it -at least during middle school. It’s not “spyware” where you see everything they’re doing, but if certain words or phrases get sent, received or posted, then you get a notification. It’s primarily an anti-bullying device for “tweens” but I think it would be a great tool to use (and possibly a wonderful opportunity for your child to create an entirely new language with his friends in order to outsmart you ;-). As they age, you can “allow” different things so you’re not getting flagged for every curse word or whatever. I also think, as always, that it REALLY depends on your kid. Don’t think just by forcing them to “friend” you that you’re going to see everything or really be able to know what’s going on with them. Remember that kids DO need some privacy and they DO need to how deal with things on their own BEFORE college.

JATL

February 7th, 2011
9:49 am

@Mom of older kids -hee hee ;-) I wouldn’t mention it. I have little boys, and I know there will come a day when I discover the porn stash, the “sock” -GAG, whatever. It will just embarrass the both of you. Be delighted it’s only Playboy! When I was a teenager I had several Playgirl magazines stashed behind my dresser and I forgot about them. My mom and I were moving the dresser around one day and I wanted to crawl under the carpet! She laughed hysterically at me, but I was MORTIFIED!

Cammi317

February 7th, 2011
10:00 am

Until she turns 18, yep! I have the password and we are friends. If she can’t go along with the plan, then she is banned from the internet and I will take her phone.

JATL

February 7th, 2011
10:03 am

@just -I, too, am amazed and horrified at children -and I mean children like the 8 year old you mentioned having cell and smart phones! I’m sorry, but my boys can get one if they REALLY REALLY want it when they turn 13. It can be a right of passage and they will have a very stringent rate plan that they have to manage. Used up all your minutes in the first week of the month? Oh well! I only say 13 because I know at that point they will have been begging for a few years and I think it can be a good lesson in responsibility. I just don’t understand some parents though -I keep reading about 7 year old birthday parties where the little girls get ACRYLIC nails and they all have iPhones and other posts about 2nd grade girls getting highlights and their mothers dying their hair -I mean what is the rush people?

LM

February 7th, 2011
10:05 am

My daughter blocked me a few months ago after a big fight. No biggie as far as I was concerned. Then all of a sudden she wanted me back as her friend but was unsure how to unblock me. It was never an issue as far as I was concerned but I felt better when she sent me a new friend request. She does not post a lot, and has been rather vocal about her friend who post all the time or post which share way too much information about themselves.

When she was younger we monitored her sites and IM’s but found her to be trustworthy and gave her more room. We had a friend who’s son somehow ended up in a chat room with an older male, so this was discussed in our house.

When her sister went off to college, I was surprised at all she posted. Photos of house parties, where you knew they had been drinking and we knew she was underage. I figured if her parents didn’t say anything it was not up to me to post. But we also used it as a point for my daughter to learn what should and should not be posted.

justmy2cents

February 7th, 2011
10:42 am

@ JATL- I do have to confess my 12 year old has a cell phone. However, it is for my piece of mind that she makes it TO the bus stop and ON the bus in the mornings. They get confiscated at school if they are caught using it, and it becomes my property as soon as she walks in the door at night.

I’ve taken my 8 year old and friends to get nail done, but just painting the ones they have, no falsies and certainly no hooker reds, just cute kiddie colors. Don’t get me started on some of the outfits parents allow their kids to wear these days, and the designers should be ashamed of themselves for some of the “styles” they encourage children to wear!!!!!!

DB

February 7th, 2011
10:59 am

Yes, I’ve been “friends” with my kids on Facebook since I opened an account four years ago. But I almost never comment on their walls (other than “Happy Birthday!” or responding to their comments on a movie, etc.) For one thing, if their friends know that you are active on Facebook, it tends to inhibit the “free flow of information”. So I laid low, and just watched :-)

We kinda missed the password era on that, as the kids were getting to the age where I don’t get passwords, etc., but I always had passwords to their email accounts, so it would have been the same, if that was the case.

What’s interesting is the number of their friends who have “friended” me. I never ask to be “friends” with them, but surprisingly, I have gotten quite a few requests. It’s always interesting to see which of my daughter’s boyfriends ask to friend me — and which don’t. :-) It’s an fascinating insight into their lives. I laugh because my son is very quick to untag photos (hey, he’s in a frat :-), so he has the most boring Facebook page known to man — which is a GOOD thing, since he’s graduating from college in May and interviewing this semester! And no, it’s not because he’s restricted my views — I asked him :-) He would have told me. I mean, he’s 22 — at this point, it’s not as if I’m going to censor his FB page! When my daughter commented about my being on FB once, 4 years ago, I pointed out that it was a little ingeneous to tell the whole world what she was doing EXCEPT her mother!

penguinmom

February 7th, 2011
11:35 am

My husband and I are friends with my son who just got a FB account for Christmas. We also have the password to the account since I was the one who actually set up the account. We have complete access to his email and also have software on his laptop that sends my husband messages about any new websites he visits. So we can keep pretty good tabs on what he is doing on the Internet. He still at an age where its more of a problem that he’s surfing video game sites instead of getting homework done rather than anything else.

I can’t believe the number of kids who have their photos set to ‘friends of friends’. They truly don’t realize that if they friend an adult, the ‘f o f’ setting means that Any of that adult’s friends can see their pictures. I know they are just thinking of someone like their bff’s sister not their aunt’s old college friend.

The worst thing about being friends with teens is how much dumb stuff they do that gets posted to your newsfeed. I am constantly hiding applications or individual posts that they put up. Occasionally, I’ll hide the person but they do sometimes post interesting comments that I like seeing.

penguinmom

February 7th, 2011
11:40 am

@DB – it is a status symbol among teens to have a large number of friends on FB. I’ve found that they will friend just about anyone that is suggested by FB in order to boost numbers. Some of them have no discrimination and don’t even have to know the person at all. Just the fact that they are tenuously connected to them in some form or fashion is enough to send a friend request.

penguinmom

February 7th, 2011
11:42 am

@justmy2cents – my piece of mind is the only reason my 14-yr-old has a phone. I often remind him that my ability to reach him and his ability to reach me is the number one purpose of his phone.

DB

February 7th, 2011
12:29 pm

@penguinmom: Oh, I know — most of those I turn down — I honestly don’t care that much about what they want to wear to the movies or how bored they are with homework :-) Now that mine are in college, I’ve noticed that both my kids and several of their friends have done “purges” where they went through and deleted non-friend “friends”. One dropped from 1400 “friends” to under 200!

penguinmom

February 7th, 2011
1:18 pm

@DB – LOL! only a teen would actually think they have 1400 friends!

I have learned to google a status posted by a teen before I comment. Twice I commented on a statuses as if the teenager said them and then found out they were song lyrics. Kind of the definition of ‘old fogey’… :-)

Becky

February 7th, 2011
1:55 pm

My two aren’t old enough for FB, so will deal with whatever is “in” when they get older…

@JATL..My two are 8 1/2..The girl goes a lot to have her nails painted at the mall..Painted is all she gets and it usually runs $5-7 bucks..She loves it and has been having them painted since she was 3..They were both told by their Poppy that they will get cell phones when they turn 9..I’m ok with that because their parents aren’t the most dependable people and the kids aren’t allowed to use the phone when they are home..They will both get the phones that allow them to call like 5 people that are programmed in..

@penguimom..Ditto on the lyrics…One neice posted some thing about not being insane 3 times..I told her that if she has to keep telling herself that over and over that she might be..Turns out, it was song lyrics..

abc

February 7th, 2011
2:03 pm

Having gone through the whole parent-of-teenager valley of the shadow of death, I recommend Spectersoft eBlaster. Look into it: http://www.eblaster.com/docs/spectersoft.html.

Otherwise, if you think you know what they’re doing online, you don’t.

jarvis

February 7th, 2011
2:41 pm

eBlaster doesn’t work with some browsers though, right?

abc

February 7th, 2011
2:56 pm

I think eBlaster is browser-independent; a lot of what it does is key logging: logins, passwords, to what sites/applications; transcripts of emails and chats/im; record of URLs visited and logged keystrokes on them. You’ll easily know every site they visit, every login they use, every conversation conducted.

JATL

February 7th, 2011
3:29 pm

@Becky -I have no problem with little girls getting their nails painted. I used to love to have my fingernails and toenails painted when I was a kid, but to have long, fake, acrylic nails put on a little girl?!?! That’s bizarre to me.

Becky

February 7th, 2011
5:04 pm

@JATL..I have never had fake or acrylic nails and I don’t see her getting them either..I’m with you, I don’t have any problems with little ones getting their nails painted, but all that other crap ain’t gonna happen..

fk

February 7th, 2011
6:45 pm

I had my son’s password before I signed onto FB. I may have checked his account once. Just the fact that I had the password was a deterrent for him. I was mostly concerned with whom he was “friending.” I checked it once again after I had been on fb for a while, and he had not changed his password. He actually “friended” me when I signed up. He had been friends with many aunts, uncles, cousins, family friend,s, so he’d be blocking a lot. Like DB, I post an annual, “happy birthday,” a weekly “good luck at the game,” during the season, or “call home,” when he hasn’t answered a text. My niece posted something that got her into trouble with her parents, so she unfriended every relative on fb – I think there are something like 30+ of us. She is slowly adding everyone back. She’s a high school senior now. Things change. They grow up.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 7th, 2011
9:52 pm

Mom of older kids — sorry i am responding so late to your comment — i was thinking about that just the other day when we were talking about the porn monitor on the computer — I was wondering if my mom knew my brother had playboys in his closet — I knew he did. I wondered if my parents did. don’t want to bust him by asking her now but am curious.

sherry

February 7th, 2011
10:04 pm

friend your kids, and friend their friends. i have a 15 year old daughter and i require her to friend me. she has had a couple of boyfriends and they have been required to friend me too. she doesn’t like it, but she understand it isn’t a choice.
don’t let your kid sit up in their room on the computer, it should be used in a public place until you trust their maturity.
check their cell phones, look at the media on them, make sure they don’t have anything they shouldn’t have. and IF THEY DO, then talk to them and explain to them WHY it’s not ok.
these kids have so much instant access, they are bound to make some bad decision, but we have to monitor it all and steer them through it all…

TJ

February 7th, 2011
10:20 pm

Another trend is that they are creating multiple profiles. So, your child could friend you… and then have another profile for other things they do….

momofthree

February 7th, 2011
10:41 pm

When I joined, my college-aged son was already on Facebook. When I friended him he had just removed himself from some inappropriate stuff. My 13 yr olds are too young and immature to FB yet. Can’t let one of them because we adopted her at age nine and her birth family is also on FB. The other is still too trusting of apps and people. She would infect her computer or get her account hacked in a heartbeat. My niece unfriended me and her grandma because we called her on the carpet for her foul language. It’s too bad her parents don’t require her to be friends with THEM.

Lisa

February 7th, 2011
10:46 pm

I am friends with my children of Facebook and have had several of her friends send me friend request. I require my minor daughter to give me her password and I check her profile often. When my older 2 were still at home the same applied to them, along with not permitting any information posted that could allow people to easily locate them. My middle child posted her school when she was 16 and I went in and had her account closed. She wasn’t happy but I felt she was safer.

Jonathan

February 7th, 2011
11:02 pm

I am the oldest of three. I have a sister who is 22 and a brother who is 19. We have all been on Facebook for a few years and none of us have anything to hide, nor have we had anything to hide. My mom and dad are both on Facebook and have been for at least two years; we added them as friends as soon as they signed up. My sister is actually the one who setup the account for my mom and showed her how to use it.

ugajd

February 7th, 2011
11:11 pm

Obviously, it depends on the age of your children. My daughter will be allowed to have a facebook account when she turns 12, but she will definitely be required to friend me. Also, I will have her user ID and password and will have complete control over her account. I can’t imagine it any other way.

Braves #17 Fan

February 8th, 2011
12:06 am

It’s not a choice. It’s an absolute obligation as a parent. Also, watch out for the vulgar music that’s out there these days.

Andre

February 8th, 2011
1:23 am

So what’s stopping teens from making another page behind their parents back and blocking their parent so they won’t come up in any searches? I’ve seen it done on more than one occasion. And 12 years old is too young for Facebook, the minimal age is 13.

penguinmom

February 8th, 2011
2:21 am

@andre, yes 12 is too young. I wish 13 was considered too young. In our case what would stop our son is that we have access to his laptop and check it regularly (including regular emails to my husband about what sites he has accessed). My son doesn’t use the computer at the library or anywhere else. Plus he knows the consequences of being found out would be very dire.

We also have a program that takes screen shots at regular intervals and saves them in a directory our son doesn’t know about (it keeps about 100 images). He knows we can check his history which he never remembers to clear out.

We are fortunate that our son actually likes having us as his friends on FB, he comments on my statuses and puts pictures I tag him in up as his profile picture. I try very hard to not post anything that would be too embarrassing and don’t put up or tag pictures of him that I think he wouldn’t like.

benjen

February 8th, 2011
3:16 am

To keep tabs on my kids is about the only reason I currently have a FB account. We have their passwords and check their accounts with them. We tell them that if they have something private to say, they say it in person. FB is a public forum, and they need to know that our preacher, their grandparents, their principal, and their girlfriends parents login to see what they are up to.

mohd nazirul rais bin mohd nor

February 8th, 2011
3:31 am

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February 8th, 2011
3:33 am

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Michael Miller

February 8th, 2011
3:55 am

1. they will just put you on a special list where they only share the safe updates.
2. they will just have a family friendly account and a separate/private account.

It still does nothing for twitter, or regular SMS messages. I give you an A for effort though. You can try to install some monitoring software, but you can’t really control their phones.

If you don’t punish your kids for anything, then nothing will work. And time outs don’t really count.

Braves #17 Fan

February 8th, 2011
8:10 am

On another note, how do parents screen songs that your kids listen to? My 14-year-old daughter recently posted the first few lines of a song called “Get Low”, by Lil Jon, on Facebook and I was stunned when I pulled up the entire lyrics. Some of her friends, supposedly good kids, “liked” it on Facebook. It’s crazy that these rappers are allowed to produce songs with such profanity-laced lyrics. Needless to say, Lil Jon no longer lives on her phone or in iTunes.

Cammi317

February 8th, 2011
9:30 am

I definitely screen music. My daughter is 13 and I do not tell her she cannot listen to music, instead when we are in the car listening to “her music stations” if I hear an inappropriate song I tell her I do not like the song and why. This has worked quite well because 99% of the time when one of these songs come on she will say “Mommy change the station remember this is the song about…” She pays more attention in general now, because sometimes she when a song comes on I have never heard she will say “Mommy you are not going to want to listen to this song”. I realize that does mean that she will not listen at all, but it’s nice to know she is paying attention. I have come to realize that most of the children do not really pay attention to the meaning of the lyrics, they just like the beats and the choruses. Case and point, two years ago I was in the car with my daughter and Madonna’s Like a Prayer song came on and I was singing away and then all of a sudden I realized what the darned song was about. It was a crazy moment, because it was a song I learned as a teen and back then I never bothered to analyze the lyrics. Needless to say I changed the station. However, I must say, now looking back I realize that myself and my siblings sang several inappropriate songs about which my parents never said a word. Not songs with bad language, but with sexual implications. I wonder if it was because they knew we had no clue as to what we were singing about and thought it better that we keep our innocence and therefore they did not bring such things to our attention.

Braves #17 Fan

February 8th, 2011
9:58 am

Cammi317 – Your kids are lucky to have an awesome mom.

CobbParent

February 8th, 2011
10:52 am

My son is Facebook “friends” with his father, but I have set it up so that my ex’s “updates” don’t show up on my son’s page and my ex cannot see most of what is going on with my son’s page and cannot comment on his wall. Why did I do this? Well, I figure it has to be pretty hard on a kid when your father says he doesn’t have time to see you today/tonight/this weekend and then you have to endure facebook updates that night about the great party/bar he is at and then see the facebook photos of him smacking his girlfriend’s butt or him with all of his new “friends” when they are obviously intoxicated. Just not the kinda thing I want my son to see. Facebook for tweens and teens should be between them and their friends…and honestly I think it is a little weird when adults use facebook, but then again I don’t feel a need to put my life on display or seriously believe that most people I know would really care that I am “having a wicked time at [fill in the blank].” Now you can all go on about how facebook is so great for keeping in touch with family and friends and sharing photos, etc. – I call (or call on) my family and friends when I want to speak with them and I can e-mail pictures.