What should I do if my child blocks me on Facebook?
A third of people under 35 have blocked a relative on social media. We speak to parents and teenagers about befriending each other online and find it's a very sensitive subject
Published 23/04/2015 | 15:15
As older generations embrace social media, younger users are switching off, according to a new report.
The Halifax Digital Home Index found 32 per cent of 16 to 35 year olds deleted their Facebook accounts once an older relative joined, while 33 per cent admitted to deleting or blocking a family member.
Anna's son, who's in his early 20s, unfriended her on Facebook when he went to university to stop her from seeing his posts.
"At the time, I was really hurt," she says, "and then I started to worry. I thought, what can he be doing up there that he desperately doesn't want me to see?"
Melanie, who has two children, has a strict rule in her house: if she doesn't have access to her children's social media accounts, they can't have them.
"They are my children, under my roof and I have to protect them. They think I'm just being difficult, but they don't understand what the internet is really like. They don't know who is looking at their profile and what is being done with the content they upload. As parents, it's our job to watch out for them."
A 2013 study found that two in three British parents use Facebook to spy on their children, with one in six admitting spying on their children was the sole reason for joining the social network.
Precious, a student, blocked her mother on Facebook to avoid "lectures".
"I walked in on her and my sister setting up her account one day and knew immediately she'd want to be friends with me, so I had to do it. I do think I'll probably unblock her when I get older just so she can see what I'm up to. When I'm no longer dependent on her I won't really care if she disapproves of my life choices then she's welcome to spy."
Amisha, 19, thinks parents have got it all wrong. "They think of the worst-case scenario. It's not that we're hiding anything from them," she says, "we're not all doing drugs and having casual sex. I just like to keep my family and social life separate."
"If I add my mum on Facebook, and she sees a picture of me somewhere, she will call me up and ask me why I didn't tell her I was going to that event."
The report also found that one in 10 young people have switched to different social media channels, such as Twitter or Snapchat to keep their online comments and activities hidden from their parents.
Amisha admits that her mother being on Facebook does drive her to use other social media channels more instead.
In 2013, as part of a Europen Union funded study on social media, Professor of Material Culture at UCL Daniel Miller wrote: "It is nothing new that young people care about style and status in relation to their peers, and Facebook is simply not cool anymore."
"Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives."
"Parents have worked out how to use the site and see it as a way for the family to remain connected. In response, the young are moving on to cooler things."
Not all parents, however, are eager to follow their children on social media. Hajia never intended on friending her son on Facebook. She says his privacy was important to her, "it's about respecting his privacy and mine. I may see something I don't like, and I won't be able to ignore it without talking to him about it. It's best to let him tell me if he wants to."