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Are Your Kids Taking Their 900 Closest Friends to College?

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Guest blogger Lori Getz: I remember being 17, packing up my car and leaving high school behind me. Don't get me wrong: I didn't hate high school at all; I was just ready for a fresh start in college. I thought about how I would be different, correcting the personal flaws that had gotten me in trouble in the past. I thought about what types of friends I would try to make, and which ones I would stay clear of. I thought about what I would wear, leaving my cheerleading skirt behind to try to create a more mature look. No one in college would know about how I'd been bullied by the "mean girls"; no one in college would know about the nickname (still too horrible to reveal) that haunted me for years. It was going to be a new and improved me!

I was talking with a mom this summer about her son, who was getting ready to go off to a small Christian college. She was worried that his Facebook account "wasn't very Christian" and wondered how others at the college might perceive him. She wanted him to clean up the pictures and language, but her son rolled his eyes and gave her that "OH, MOM, you're totally overreacting" look. I couldn't help but giggle -- this was not the first time I had heard a story like that. So I offered her a different perspective. 

To me, it's not about cleaning up the pictures and language. (Let's be real here: Most kids have things on their FB pages that their parents don't love but their friends barely notice.) No, it's more about cleaning house. Going off to college is a rite of passage, and much of it has to do with starting fresh. But how can our kids do that if they take ALL of their old baggage along for the ride? With Facebook, our kids are taking every FB friend, every past interaction and every documented moment to college, too. 

If it were me, I would shut down my high-school Facebook page and create a new one, changing my profile to reflect a more mature me and bringing over only my closest friends (the ones I really want with me on the new journey). No need to "unfriend" anyone; just deactivate and start again. Doing this is not about being rude or meanspirited, it's just about growing up! 

Don't our kids deserve the same clean slate we got? It's possible: All they have to do is choose to make the break in the cyberworld, too.

next: Tame the Artwork Clutter!
6 comments so far | Post a comment now
KMayer September 30, 2010, 10:47 AM

my kid did a major purge before heading off to college. MAJOR. Only 1 or 2 long lost camp friends reconnected, but the remaining 287 were water under the high school bridge!

Jacob Taylor October 2, 2010, 6:09 PM

I am not sure where things are going to go from here. I agree that students today do not have the separation that they used to have. They can keep much of their support network. Students are also more likely to be interacting online, where geography does not matter.

Another perspective though is that of the fraternity or sorority or dorm floor. I know a lot of people that built social networks from these sources and still carry forward with them today. I know a lot of young people that actually have some pretty solid friends and some excellent contacts in their lists. Networking, the business term, can be a huge part of social networks. A clean break will cut off the good as well as the bad.


Berenice October 12, 2010, 8:49 AM

I wouldn’t worry that much I believe our kids would have to be smart enough to know what they want to take along with them to College and what to leave behind as a good memory, there’s nothing wrong if they want to keep the old FB profile. It’s not like they sell Kamagra Gel with it.

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