Help! My Mom's On Facebook and Cooler Than Me!

Editor's note: This is the campus perspective from our partners at 

By Leslie Ventura
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

It’s an average Monday night and my family has just finished watching their latest Netflix rental. While we wait for Conan O’Brien to come on, the volume on the television is lowered so my mother can hear herself shoot zombies on her favorite iPhone app.

Still waiting for Conan, mom checks what movie is in her queue, has a conversation with relatives through Facebook Chat, updates her status on Twitter and downloads mp3s from indie music blogs – all via her MacBook.

My mom is cooler than me.

As much as we may hate to admit it, our parents are probably having more fun than we are.

The days when mom and dad weren’t hip enough to know anything about teenage technology are gone. Here are the days where many parents not only use the technology, but know more about it than we do.

More importantly, kids and young adults alike are not happy about it.

The issue isn’t really about technology. If parents want to use computers to pay bills and check stocks, more power to them.

The issue is what they use technology for and why that technology is important in the first place – Web sites like Myspace and Facebook were originally created as a little spot in the World Wide Web to help people define themselves from everyone else.

Before parents’ involvement became a concern, kids were already furious that teachers were “invading their privacy,” digging into a place as private as their bedrooms. Using photo evidence of students partaking in underage drinking readily available on MySpace, schools could now keep kids off of football teams and out of school dances.

Next, it was employers notifying employees that they would be checking MySpace profiles to ensure that their new hires weren’t misrepresenting the company or discussing confidential information outside of work. Many employers go as far as checking potential employees’ profiles before they are hired.

Now that parents are using the same networking sites, younger MySpacers don’t have anywhere else to hide. Not that they ever did or could because the Internet is public domain.The Internet was never private and it probably never will be. Many Web sites allow users to enable privacy settings on their pages, but that doesn’t stop mom from friend-requesting you 13 times until you finally cave in and accept. Millenials are angry that Facebook has been “invaded” by adults and annoyed that parents try to follow our tweets: The attitude that youth has toward adults is “get out and stay out.”

But in a time where we denounce racism and sexism, what makes this discrimination against older people OK?

The fact is, the allure of having your own space that defines who you are is transcendent. This phenomenon is not limited by age – almost everyone enjoys talking about their lives and reminiscing about the past. It is a way of casting memories into stone, like scrapbooking, but on a much larger scale for everyone to see. These Web sites have woven themselves into the fabric of human culture.

And while the youth of today is worried that there won’t be any money left for Social Security when we are old, our parents have the amazing ability to stay young socially even as they age physically. They are “getting old” in a time when some of the most interesting and fun technology is being invented, and they should have the right to know how to use it. Parents aren’t limiting themselves to boring games of cards, bingo and re-runs of “The Price is Right” anymore. Instead, parents are defining themselves on Myspace while making new friends, networking on Facebook while organizing events and speaking their minds on Twitter, just like we are.

As I get older, I’m starting to realize that our personality quirks and characteristics stay with us no matter how old we get. The ability to speak your mind and convey your thoughts to the world in seconds may not have been fathomable when our parents were our age, but the appeal is just as real to them as it is to us.

Most days, I come home to my mom playing table tennis on the Wii she bought for herself. Having already read her latest Twitter update, I ask how yoga went and we end up talking about how our days went and even play a match of virtual golf.

In fact, technology might be bringing us closer.

You can run from it or you can embrace it. Either way, the technology we once thought was ours alone is now available to all ages.

Instead of being horrified that your mother added you on Facebook, maybe it’s a sign that you really shouldn’t have all of those pictures of you doing beer bongs up for the world to see. And what goes on in your parents’ lives may be as cool and interesting as your own.