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Family networks

Updated: 2013-09-15 07:33
By Xu Lin ( China Daily)

Then, Liang's mother used her husband's mobile phone and asked her daughter why her husband could read Liang's recent posts but she hadn't seen any for a long time.

Liang told her mom it was because of her phone's unstable Internet. She took the phone and pretended to fix the problem, while swiftly and secretly unblocking her mother on her own phone.

"I can't grumble about my mom on WeChat anymore," Liang says.

"Now I just don't post things she doesn't want to see or things I don't want her to see."

Some people are getting around the nosy parent problem by creating two SNS accounts - one for family and one for friends.

That's the approach 21-year-old Yang Yunmeng takes. And the university student in Guangdong's provincial capital Guangzhou says she doesn't feel the least bit guilty about it.

"I try to balance protecting my privacy and my parents' feelings," Yang says.

"My family doesn't know about my other account. But I think they'd understand. We all need more space and freedom."

Her mother, who only gives her surname, Yang, tells China Daily she'd understand if her daughter uses two accounts or blocks her on SNS.

"Everybody has their secrets," the mother says.

"Parents also have things they keep from their kids."

Unwittingly echoing her daughter, she says: "We all need space."

But while Yang Yunmeng keeps one SNS account secret from her family, she enjoys sharing the other with them.

"SNS improve our family's relationship because they generate convenient communication," she says.

"We should use it in a good way, rather than make it a barrier."

But generational differences manifest online. Youth typically document their lives on such SNS as WeChat, while older users often share links about street smarts, health tips and inspirational stories and quotes.

Yang Yunmeng's mother fits that bill. The daughter says: "The street smarts are based on rumors. The health tips are unsubstantiated. And the uplifting stories are meaningless.

"As a Virgo with obsessive compulsive disorder, I don't know whether to laugh or cry at Mom's posts. I can't tell her these things don't make sense."

But Yang Yunmeng believes it's her mother's right to share what she wants online. She realizes most parents want their kids to see their posts.

While some parents secretly spy on their children using fake accounts, some children sneakily tamper with their parents' actual accounts.

Often, the children set up their parents' accounts in the first place, so they know their passwords - or at least how to get them.

Yuan, the 16-year-old, started his mothers' accounts, so he knows her passwords - and uses them without her knowledge.

"If she posts something embarrassing about me on her micro blog, I'll log on her account and delete it," he says.

Family networks

Yuan says his classmate's mother followed her boy's micro blog. The boy believed it was a classmate who admired him, since the posts were encouraging.

When he discovered the truth, he changed his mother's password and told her hackers had hijacked the account.

Such bait-and-switch tactics are commonly used by the younger generation.

Shanxi province native Ning Cuiming secretly added her 17-year-old nephew's QQ and WeChat to see if he had a puppy love relationship that could affect his studies. Upon discovering this, the boy unfriended his 49-year-old aunt on WeChat gave his QQ account to Ning's daughter. Ning didn't know about the switch for some time, and her daughter didn't realize until later why the boy had given her his account.

Ning says: "I just noticed he blocked me on WeChat. I'm very angry because he must have an ulterior motive."

Her nephew Ning Shaogang tells China Daily he did it because he needs privacy. Understanding and trust are the bases of communication, he says.

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