Facebook scientists analyze how kids, parents interact on social network

For good or evil, Facebook knows a lot about what we do online. And in a fascinating glimpse at familial relationships on social networks, data scientists there posted a cool analysis of how parents and their progeny interact.

The study is full of tidbits about families’ online interactions. It seems that family interactions on a semi-public, online network in many ways mirror what happens in the privacy of our own homes.

The first trend will probably be familiar to anyone who has raised (or been) a teenager. Researchers found that younger kids were overwhelmingly the ones to initiate friend requests to their parents, a trend that rapidly declines from age 13 until people are in their mid-20s. The rate of kid-initiated online friendship then rose, to about 50 percent by the time the children were in their mid-40s.

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Daughters seem more willing to engage with their parents, posting on their parents’ timelines as much as their parents post on theirs—a trend that increases as they get into their mid-30s. Sons are more reticent, receiving many more messages than they post to their parents’ timelines.

The most interesting finding was an analysis of the words fathers, daughters, sons, and mothers post on each others’ timelines.

Dads doting on their daughters tend to write things such as “ha ha ha” and “my darling.”

Moms say things such as “COME HOME” and “my darling daughter.”

Dads posting on their sons’ timelines, on the other hand, say things such as “dude” and “MONEY,” as well as showering manly praise on them, such as “way to go.” Moms, on the other hand, write phrases such as “my little boy” and “call your mother.” Mom and dad both used words including “football,” “beer,” and “well done.”

The Facebook scientists also found that among the videos offspring shared with their parents is this, a mom and son dancing Gangnam style.