Parents use Facebook to vet roommates

Phones are ringing at college life offices as parents are dismayed at Facebooks profiles that show promiscuity, drug use.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor
Meeting a college roommate for the first time is often an awkward experience not only for first-timers but especially for their parents. Through Facebook parents can now check out their kids' future roommates online. But that often brings more worry than relief to some parents. And colleges are feeling the heat, reports The New York Times.

They are called "helicopter parents,'' always hovering and watching their fledglings, and they are calling university housing offices in droves to have their kids change roommates due to something they saw on Facebook.

"We sent out roommate assignments in August, at 4:30 in the afternoon, and at 7:30 the next morning, we had a call from a mother who was extremely upset about her daughter's roommate's Facebook, which had a fairly graphic description of her approach to sexual activity,'' said Alan Levy, director of housing public affairs at the University of Michigan.

Parents are learning unseemly things - in words and images - about propsective roommates and saying "no way."

"This is the first year we're getting these Facebook calls, asking for roommate changes. Parents tend to not be connected with Facebook culture, and there can be something very off-putting about the way many young people represent themselves.''

Parents complaints run the gamut of concerns about sexual orientation, drinking, drugs and even tattoos.

"We probably had about 20 Facebook-related calls about roommates this year,'' said Jennifer Adams, assistant dean at Colgate University. "Often, the freaking-out comes down to lifestyle issues, or different taste in music or clothing or the arts, and if you ask enough questions, it's about a fear that they won't have anything in common. We certainly have parents who call and say they're concerned that the roommate seems to have an incredibly active social life. And we had parents who were worried that the roommate's Facebook had a lot of references to the Bible.''
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