Many believe that this is a topic on which a ‘Guide to…’ is unnecessary. Partly because the majority of parents with student-age offspring don’t have Facebook, and are mostly near indifferent to its existence. My housemate’s mum, for example, thought that the term was a synonym for “the internet”. But also partly because advice concerning the Facebooking habits of senior generations should be kept simple: for God’s sake just DON’T let them do it. And if, against all that is right and good in this world, they insist on signing up, deny their online existence and refuse to accept them as friends. I maintain that there are many for whom this is too late a nugget of wisdom, and offer three tips to make the forays of these people’s parents into the world of the “interweb” (as my mum calls it on occasion) a less cringe-inducing corner of their existence.

1) Exercise caution regarding the content of your profile to avoid interrogation or embarrassment. Like a guard dog, you must patrol your wall with vigilance, removing or detagging anything likely to attract parental comment, criticism or concern (the Three Cs, if you will). Examples include photos in which you look like an alcoholic (‘”Dad says 2 put down ur alcopops and get on with ur work LOL! XxXxX”), photos where you look like an entirely respectable son/daughter (“ME AND UR MUM LIKE UR PROM PICTURES – I TOLD U M&S CUT A DECENT SUIT!!”) and joke info changes (“Jack, just seen you are engaged????? call and let us know what is going on plz x”).

2) Never allow your friends to add the offending parent(s); keep the embarrassment under control and within the perimeters of your profile. Failure to conceal Mum or Dad’s Facebooking and prevent any ‘banterous’ friend requests from your mates will probably result in their being the victims of some sort of post-night-out abusive behaviour. I don’t know how a friend of mine explained away the phone calls his mum got asking for phone sex from his intoxicated housemates (the number being readily available on her profile) but it can’t have been pretty.

3) If all else fails, and there’s simply no end or limit to their FBing, deny that you have parents at all. Tell anyone that asks that you were orphaned at birth and the crazy lady that likes every one of your statuses is an unidentified maniac with the same surname as you…and the same bone structure. But that’s purely coincidental. Alternatively, direct your parents toward Twitter and hope that the bandwagon is foolish enough to let them on board.

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