With the explosion in Facebook’s popularity, more and more older people are joining, and that means unwanted parental friend requests are becoming all too common. I recently had a Facebook friend complain that her dad sent her a friend request, and she wasn’t sure what to do about it.
As parents pop up everywhere on Facebook, the backlash has begun. There’s even a group on Facebook called “Parents who have Facebook are creepy.”
Accepting a parent as a friend means they get to see all of your foul language-laden status updates and those photos from the nights you went out drinking. Understandably, many Facebook users, even adults, don’t want their parents to have access to this information. But how can you reject a friend request from a parent or other close relative?
Here are the three basic ways to handle an unwanted parental Facebook friend request.
#1: Deny the unwanted Facebook friend request
Simply denying the friend request is the easiest way to handle the situation. I’m always shocked by how many people are unwilling to consider this option. Remember, it’s not like you’re five years old anymore. You can stand up to Mom and Dad – especially when it comes to something as trivial as Facebook!
Gently inform your loved one, “Mom, I know you don’t understand Facebook that well, but it’s a place where I talk with my close friends about personal matters. I don’t feel comfortable having my parents as part of that discussion, so I’m not going to accept the friend request.”
If they’re oversensitive and get offended at the denial, it’s not the end of the world. They need to learn Netiquette sooner or later. Unless you want them snooping into your personal life all the time, might as well cut them off before they become part of your online world.
#2 Accept the unwanted Facebook friend request and censor yourself
This is by far the least desirable option, yet it’s the one most people seem to choose. During a recent online discussion about unwanted parental friend requests, several commenters lamented the loss of their online freedom after reluctantly accepting the request. “Say goodbye to off-color content!” said one person. Another said, “I need to make sure I’m on my best behavior from now on!”
Comments like these just make me want to scream, Why? Ok, I get it. With parents, you have to pick your battles, and many people decide this isn’t a battle worth fighting. If that’s the case, go ahead and allow the parent to intrude in your virtual world, but don’t complain about it later. You’re the one who allowed it happen!
#3 Accept the unwanted Facebook friend request and create content filters
Did you know you can create special groups of friends and control what content each of those groups can see? This is the recommended option for handling unwanted Facebook friend requests from parents.
If you’re really not willing to tell Mom or Dad to cut the cord, and you feel forced to accept their friend request, go ahead and accept the request, then make it so they can’t access most of your profile.
While browsing your list of friends, select Create New List and add your parent to the list. Then, edit the List settings so that the members of the list cannot see photos, status updates, wall feed, or whatever else you’d like to hide. Now, you’ve made your parents happy by accepting them, while at the same time maintaining the freedom to have an online personal life.
Chances are your parent won’t even realize some of your content is being hidden. If they’re web-savvy enough to know that you’re hiding some of your profile, they’re probably web-savvy enough to know not to send you a friend request in the first place.
Unwanted Facebook friend requests: Summary
If you find yourself faced with an unwanted friend request from a parent or another person with whom you aren’t comfortable sharing the details of your personal life, the best option is to politely deny the request or accept the request and create content filters. Don’t censor yourself!
And if you’re a parent, don’t even think of sending your child a friend request. Whether they admit it or not, they do not want to be your online friend and they will resent the intrusion into a corner of their life that is supposed to be private. Give them some space!