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When you think of online games, Facebook wouldn’t be the
first one to pop into your mind, yet the reality is Facebook is one big
game that nearly everyone you know is playing at the same time. This "game" began in 2004 as a way to connect college students, but it soon blossomed into the
world’s largest, most valuable and most utilized social media tool. Just who is
responsible for the jaw-dropping 4.5 million Facebook "likes" counted every
day? No, you won’t find pimply-faced teen gamers on a quest for level
domination firmly planted in front of the keyboard. You’ll find a more hardcore
user, armed with a death stare and high-waisted jeans. Yes, you guessed it—Facebook is the hotspot for moms.
I’m sure the idea of Facebook transforming into
Mommybook wasn’t what the young innovator Mark Zuckerberg had in mind when he
created the social networking site. Of the reported 665 million daily Facebook users, however, moms can be found using Facebook significantly more often than their teens who are shunning the commercialized
site for less obtrusive social media options like Twitter.
“I'm 47 and I probably check in on Facebook at least
15 times a day,” admits Kara Buntin, a Richmond, Virginia mom who runs a
Facebook business page for her custom
Buntin’s 17-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter both have Facebook pages that
they rarely use. “My daughter said that she uses Facebook to look at
pictures, but she and her friends are aware of the privacy issues on it, so
they don't post messages to each other in public very often,” Buntin shares.
Moms, more than teens, need a social outlet.
While her daughter reports using Google Chat with her
friends more often, Buntin’s 17-year-old son’s online activities completely
sidestep Facebook and are centered around a game called Gary’s Mod, a sandbox
world where players build virtual environments and interact with other players.
Concerns over privacy issues and a keen interest in
learning how to create virtual environments rather than simply using them
aren’t the only reasons teens are turned off by Facebook.
“My teen daughter doesn’t like Facebook because there is no
filter,” shares Tameka Anderson, a Snellville, Ga. mom who runs a copywriting business. Anderson says her 17-year-old daughter
doesn’t like Facebook so she doesn’t use it often, instead choosing to frequent
Tagged.com for one important reason: “It’s not Facebook.”
The intentional side-eyes and frozen smirks of her children won’t
stop Anderson from engaging in a highly active Facebook life. Anderson has been using the social media site
since 2009 for both business and personal reasons—which include keeping an eye
on her children’s activities and adding her share of giggles and rants in
private groups and on the more public rolling timeline.
“My favorite group to snoop around and be wild in is Mental
Penetration, a secret group,” Anderson says. “When I want to debate I go to the
Black Fathers group, and when I would like to offer advice I go to the Single
Dr. Suzana Flores, a licensed clinical psychologist
who has studied the psychological effects of Facebook extensively over the past
three years, agrees wholeheartedly with the fact that Facebook is
consistently more attractive to moms. “Facebook is not so much a teen phenomena,” Flores asserts.
According to Flores, research shows that teens are getting off
of Facebook and are choosing other social media sites for a few standard
Moms are on Facebook. No
teenager wants to "friend" his mom on a social media site. He also does not want his mom looking at his profile and questioning why he interacts with certain people or "likes" certain posts.
Teens want to avoid drama. Shockingly, many
teens have reported an awareness of the drama that Facebook seems to
encourage. For this reason, Facebook is more of an adult problem, not
so much a teen problem.
Moms, more than teens, need a social outlet. It is way easier for teens to make friends than their moms. The older we get,
the more selective we are regarding whom we choose to communicate
with. Facebook has clearly advanced our communication in terms of the
number of people we get to interact with, but this does not necessarily
mean that it has improved our communication.
Teens are more guarded about their privacy. The
very nature of Facebook allows for a "distancing" factor in
our communication that encourages us to post more (almost too much) about
ourselves. We've grown accustomed to not only expect, but demand, that others open up as often as we do on social media sites. When it comes to privacy, it
appears that certain teens are more in tune with knowing what information they
should protect from their parents.
Brenda Hook, a 38-year-old Maryland, Va. mom, doesn’t
need an expert to tell her she’s a prime candidate for enjoying the virtual
amenities that Facebook has to offer. Hook frequently rants and raves on
Facebook about her love life, her various jobs and her teenage son who recently
graduated from high school.
Recently, Hook says she has stepped back from posting so much about her son’s life
“What I like most
about Facebook is that I can catch up with everyone even though I don't see
them or haven't seen them in years,” Hook shares. “I can lurk on my friend’s pages
without saying anything, or I can leave a comment and let them know that I was
Hook’s 18-year-old son Tyler has abandoned
Facebook in favor of Twitter informing his mom that Facebook is “too crowded,
too much information, too many pictures, too much advertising and it's harder to
get a Twitter fan base than it is to get a Facebook fan base.”
Hook laughs at the notion that her son
believes he has fans, yet she is probably his biggest fan, sharing pictures of
his graduation, new car and boasting about his trip to the beach for Senior Week.
Recently, Hook says she has stepped back from posting so much about her son’s
life because she believes boasting about your child on Facebook is setting him up for failure.
“Once they stop performing and doing
things that make you proud to post about them, then where are you?” Hook
challenges. “What do you post? ‘Hey Everyone! My kid had five bags of weed on him
today!’ No. You won’t post that. You’ll slink into the shadows, and people will
forget you even have a kid. Instead, I choose to focus on myself and post about
how badass I am.”