By Brandon Griggs
(CNN) — As they move from their early teens to their late teens, kids no longer want to be pals with Mom and Dad. Teenage boys are much less likely than girls to initiate conversations with their parents. And moms baby their sons.
Not exactly news flashes, you say? But we’re not talking about real life here, exactly. We’re talking about Facebook.
The world’s largest social network released new data Thursday about how parents and their children interact online. But the findings, from Facebook’s data science team, also illustrate how personal interactions on Facebook can mirror those in the so-called real world.
“With the holidays approaching, and families gathering all over the world, we wanted to understand how parents and children on Facebook communicate,” says the post, which crunches friend requests, conversations and other Facebook data from the past two months.
“We are happy to see that our data surfaces the affection, care, and closeness of family ties.”
Here are the highlights of what Facebook found:
Who friends whom: More than 65% of friendships between 13-year-olds and their parents are initiated by the child. But the older the teenager gets, the less likely he or she is to be the one sending the friend request. By the time kids are in their early to mid-20s, their parents are initiating friend requests with them 60% of the time.
As kids grow into their 30s and 40s, however, they begin friending their parents more often again.
“This overall trend follows the rough arc of children seeking distance from their parents as they prepare to leave the nest, and then gradually gravitating back as they accomplish their own milestones in life,” says the blog post.
Who talks to whom: Moms and dads initiate parent-child conversations more often than their teenage kids. For daughters, this imbalance evens out by the time they hit 30 and are messaging their parents as often as they receive messages in return. Sons, however, however, take twice as long — until age 60 — to come around.
What they say: The data team studied hundreds of thousands of public Facebook messages between parents and children to identify the words and phrases that appeared most often. Based on the results, Mom and Dad are very proud of their kids.
Among the most common phrases from parents: “I’m so proud, “all my heart,” “well done,” “proud of you” and “call me.”
Moms and dads use language much differently when messaging with sons, though. Mothers preferred endearments like “my handsome son” and “my little boy,” while dads used profanity and words like “buddy” and “dude.”
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