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Survey finds parent-child communication changes in college

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A new survey shows how families communicate changes when students go to college, according to BetaNews yesterday. The new conversation habits are described in a July 24 Press Release from Dell. Email and texting is replacing talking. This is a head’s up for parents of the college-bound to have a communication talk in addition to a college cost talk with their teens.

Survey The back to school survey “conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Dell, surveyed more than 1,000 respondents from across the country, including 506 students aged 16-19 who are attending or planning to attend a 2–4 year college. 505 of the respondents were parents of this type of student,” the Press Release revealed. The survey entitled “Where Learning Meets Doing” sought to find insights about how families communicate and make technology purchasing decisions.

Findings A major shift develops in parent-child communication when students are away at school. “(O)ver half (55%) are talking with their child less, but communicating more thanks to texting and emailing,” the study found. Thanks to mobile devices, geographic distance is easily bridged with emails and texts. Staying connected continues at home as well. “Three in ten parents of 16-19 year olds (30%) and over one-third of kids 16-19 (35%) even admit to texting each other to ask a question while in the same house!”

Communication talk Whether families already are using texts and email to ask questions or give information to each other or not, it is helpful to set some ground rules about the method, frequency, duration and timing of communication. Teens approaching adulthood require preparation for independence. College students need time to adjust to their new campus life.

In addition to emailing and texting, video chatting and visiting are other options. The survey found:

  • Four in five parents whose child is away or will be away (80%) are likely to text more with their child while more than three in five (62%) will video chat with their child. Just one in ten (13%) say they will text less with their child.
  • When it comes to communicating with the child away at school, half say the mode used most often is texting (51%) while less than two in five (38%) say it is talking on the phone.

Families may incorporate all possibilities in their discussion. The object is to strengthen the family bond with support while maintaining respect for personal space. The college years go by quickly and by establishing an open communication plan, families will be ready for college and beyond.

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