Is Friending Parents On Facebook A Good Thing?

Teens have dreaded their parents’ presence on Facebook for about as long as both groups have had profiles on the site, but statistics released today suggest an interesting symbiosis for the two on social media: better preparing for college admissions tests.

A Kaplan Test Prep Company survey of high school students found that 38 percent said they would have put more effort into studying for college admissions tests if parents could track their progress in the same way that many of today’s schools provide real-time grades online to families.

It looks like the test prep company is sussing out whether and how to provide progress reports to students’ families via Facebook. The idea makes sense, especially given how the positve social pressure on the network can help boost performance. However, dynamics between teens and their folks make things challenging.

Importantly, the study found that 35 percent of the teens who have parents on Facebook aren’t friends with them. Of those, 38 percent say they have ignored friend requests from their folks. That data might make Kaplan want to figure out a way for students’ families to securely access the progress reports regardless of online friendship.

Of the 65 percent of teens that have parents on Facebook who are also their friends, 16 percent say that the online friendship was a parental requirement for allowing the teens to create their own profile.

Regardless of whether they’re friends on Facebook or not, 82 percent of the teens said that their parents are involved in the students’ academic lives.

A separate Kaplan survey of 973 high school students who said their parents were on Facebook found that 56 percent of the respondents said they give full profile access to their folks, nine percent gave limited access (meaning parents are on the friend list but can’t see much), and 34 percent gave their parents no access.

Perhaps Kaplan’s plans for posting students’ progress reports on Facebook could include educating teens and parents about the privacy settings. That way, more high school students could find a way to have their folks as Facebook friends but ones who could only see the test prep progress and none of the other content on the kids’ profiles.

Does Facebook provide a good place for families to share updates on their students’ progress in school and test prep programs? How might Kaplan tackle the issue of teens’ reluctance to be friends with their parents on the social network?

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