Family networks

Updated: 2013-09-15 07:33

By Xu Lin (China Daily)

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Liang Yun says her mother would scold her for sharing too much about her personal life on SNS. The 26-year-old public relations worker, who lives with her parents in Beijing, says she felt relieved after she blocked her mother from her WeChat.

"We have different views and values," Liang says.

"Mom commented I was posting flippantly and she would post that it's improper to share everything online. Her words embarrassed me."

Liang uses her WeChat Friends Circle to share her inner feelings, including those about her family. Her mother regularly prowled her circle, until the daughter finally pushed her out - unbeknownst to her mother.

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.