Technology has transformed parenting with a virtual umbilical cord. Years ago, when children left the family home, many parents gave them some change to use in a public pay phone if they needed to get in touch. Then came the beepers emitting signals of secret messages between family members. The mobile phone arrived with the promise of immediate contact gratification. When to use the opportunity is the challenge of the digital parent of the college-bound.
Increased frequency of correspondence can be a tricky route for parents trying to raise independent good decision-makers who will hopefully soon become self-supporting. Emailing, texting, skyping, and social media connecting have widened the scope and frequency of communication between parent and child. And when families aren’t directly conversing, there are apps to track student whereabouts and behaviors.
It’s too easy for digital helicopter parenting to swoop in and cross boundaries. Over protection and monitoring during childhood can seriously impact adult self-sufficiency. Studies show it harms students’ mental health, reduces executive function capabilities, increases tendencies to engage in risky behaviors, and lowers coping mechanisms in college.
There are many unpredictables in the college process despite the best planning and preparation. How students handle disappointment, bounce back quickly, and create a Plan B on their own depends on their ability to deal with failure and learn from their mistakes. They need the self-confidence and will power to rise to challenges. Digital parenting doesn’t have to be a vehicle for helicopter parenting if used sparingly and strategically.
Text a supportive quote, email a link to a funny story, be available for advice when asked. This also means teaching students when and who to ask for help. Creating a new dialogue will aid the transition from the parent-child to the parent-adult child relationship. Get more information about what to expect during the college process by subscribing via the subscribe button to receive more college prep articles. Please share your views in the comments section about being a digital parent of the college bound.