Facebook: A Family Affair

By David Cohen 

If your children are in their early to mid-20s, don’t hold your breath waiting for Facebook friend requests from them. That was just one nugget of information from the Facebook Data Science Team, which analyzed posts on the social network that were anonymized and processed automatically by users who identified themselves as parents or children to get a better sense of how families interact with each other on Facebook.

The Facebook Data Science Team examined friend requests and found that:

  • Children aged 13 through 17 were most likely to send friend requests to their parents, with more than 65 percent of connections at age 13 initiated by them.
  • This figure hits its lowest level, 40 percent, for children in their early to mid-20s.
  • However, it then rises to 50 percent for children in their mid-40s.

In analyzing who talks to whom on the social network, the study found that daughters are far more communicative than sons, posting on their parents’ timelines nearly as often as the reverse, with that figure increasing after daughters pass age 30. Sons, meanwhile, are more often on the receiving end of Facebook posts.

In terms of comments, the Facebook Data Science Team found that activity is nearly balanced when kids are in their teens, but parents are more likely to comment once their offspring advance in age, adding that one reason for this is the frequency of photos, status updates, and other content by younger users of the social network.

When parents and children do communicate on Facebook, what do they say? The charts below hold the answers, with frequent instances of pride by parents, gratitude by children, grandchildren, non-English terms, “mothering” from mothers (such as, “be safe”), and sports talk from fathers.

The Facebook Data Science Team also determined which videos were shared most often between the two groups, finding that parents shared:


Meanwhile, the video shared most often by children was Carrie Underwood’s Don’t Forget to Remember Me, and parents and their kids alike were down with Gangnam Style.

Readers: How do your family experiences on Facebook compare with the results from the Facebook Data Science Team?

Family portrait image courtesy of Shutterstock.