Parents invade Facebook

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Ryan Ballestero checks his Facebook once or twice a day. As the page loads and the red notification flag appears, he eagerly clicks on it to see which picture or wall post received a comment. Then the realization hits him like a brick wall: It’s from his mom.

Parents have started occupying Facebook, and the trend is not necessarily welcome to some BYU students.

Ballestero, a senior from Twin Falls, Idaho, said he loves his parents dearly, but compares their Facebook attention to spam.

“You think that someone cares; that someone out of the ordinary cares,” Ballestero said. “You click on it, and it’s from your mom or dad. It’s a pretty big letdown. It’s about as cool as a Farmville invitation.”

Ballestero said his siblings are also subject to a bombarding of Facebook attention from parents.

“My brother and sister have Facebook, too,” Ballestero said. “Anytime any one of us makes a comment, probably within an hour both mom and dad have commented on it. They’ve tried to get into the Internet lingo. It’s pretty painful.”

Acronyms including but not limited to “LOL” and “JK” are peppered throughout the wall posts and picture comments of what can only be determined as Facebook parents.

Amy Kerby, the mother of two current BYU students, Ryan and Jon Kerby, said she and her husband Keith will comment on their sons’ profile pages if they feel there is a particular picture or comment that just doesn’t feel right.

Amy Kerby also said if it weren’t for her kids being on the site, she and her husband would not have signed up.

There are websites whose purpose is to help parents gain a greater knowledge of Facebook’s interworkings, and they are gaining popularity. There was even a series of classes offered at Stanford to help parents learn the ropes of the popular site.

Jon Kerby, a senior from Escondido, Calif., said because he is not a routine user of the site, his parents having an account is no big deal.

“I don’t mind that they have Facebook,” he said. “I really don’t post too often. I wouldn’t post something that I wouldn’t mind them seeing.”

The invasion of parents on Facebook is inexplicable, but not completely unexpected. Some parents these days are dressing better, sporting modern technology staples like iPods, and sometimes even friend their children’s Facebook friends.

Ellie Hall, a senior from Chicago, said her dad gets feisty on Facebook.

“My dad wears overalls all the time,” Hall said. “They are a staple in his wardrobe. In one of our family photos, my sister-in-law commented about how she liked my mom’s sweater. My dad commented right after, saying, ‘What, you don’t like my overalls?'”

Regardless of parents’ intentional or unintentional wit on Facebook, the result is usually hilarious.

Melissa Connor, a senior from Fayetteville, Ark., said her dad, both grandmas, uncles, aunts and cousins all use Facebook.

“I don’t have anything to hide,” Connor said. “I just don’t want them making annoying comments. Most of the time, I tweet instead of making Facebook statuses, because I know I don’t have to worry about them responding to it.”

It seems Twitter might be a new safe haven for students.

Kirsten Clayton, a senior from Eden studying marriage and family therapy, said her parents joined the Facebook scene for a different reason.

“My parents have Facebook because they are in the bishopric of a singles ward,” Clayton said. “They justified getting them because that was one of the main sources of communication in their ward and they felt they needed to belong. I would be lying if I said I didn’t watch what was being posted on my wall, such as pictures, more carefully after I added them.”

Clayton also said since she and her siblings are distances away, her parents enjoy Facebook as a means to stay in touch with their children and grandchildren.

“Now that everyone has a Facebook, it doesn’t really bother me,” Clayton said. ” So whoever wants to be on there is fine by me.”

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