The iConnected Parent: Are You Making Life Too Easy for Your Teen?
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Kids and their parents today are a lot closer than in past generations, and this is largely sustained by modern technology— text messages, emails, Facebook, and phone calls.
Children feel they can confide more in their parents, and parents report feeling closer to not only their children, but their children's friends as well. Modern technology has allowed them into a part of their lives that older generations may not have been privy to.
"The key seems to be in using this contact in ways that enhance development, rather than sustaining dependence," Hofer points out.
There are some central drawbacks to having too much accessibility. Hofer and Sullivan have found that students with the most contact with their parents were the ones least capable of taking care of their own lives.
When a student is able to call home right away, the parent experiences the "emotional heat of the moment," as Hofer describes it.
"In the days of weekly phone calls from the dorm phone, students often distilled the week and talked about highlights," she says, "The sting of a poor grade, a social rejection...might have faded by the time they were described to parents. Now...students whip out their cell phones as they leave class...and relay their agony as they walk across campus." "College students need to live their lives without having to process all of it with their parents," says Hofer, "So too much contact can keep them from developing emotional independence as well."
The electronic tether between parents and kids works both ways, too. While many parents might get a kick out of the constant contact modern technology provides, others might feel irritated at being expected to be available around the clock. Many parents look at their children's college years as freedom to do what they want with their own lives, whether it be to travel or furthering their education. Having a child always calling or emailing may put a damper on these adventures.
This phenomenon has earned itself a nickname— permaparenting. And with the steady decline of the country's economy, this trend has been known to extend into early adulthood, as more and more adult children are moving back in with their parents after graduation.