Thursday, August 05, 2010

Is Easy Access To Parents Hindering College Students' Growth And Independence?

Keeping in touch with parents was more expensive and time-consuming when she attended the University of Denver three decades ago. But as college students prepare to descend on campuses in the coming weeks, many will find that with the ease of cell phones, unlimited text message plans, e-mail, Facebook, and Skype, they can have near-constant access to mom and dad.

"It's changed the experience of being away at college," said James Boyle, president of College Parents of America, based in Arlington, Va. "A generation ago, when your parents said goodbye and drove away, many (students) didn't see their parents again until Thanksgiving."

But some experts fear this communication shift could hamper the independence of older teens at a time when they traditionally come into their own.

"Sometimes these students are not being as autonomous or self-sufficient as they should be," said Barbara Hofer, psychology professor at Middlebury College in Vermont and co-author of the book "The iConnected Parent"...

Hofer said problems arise when these electronic conversations enter "regulatory" territory: Parents reminding their student about assignments, making course schedule decisions, monitoring posts on Facebook or telling the child how to handle basic conundrums of life, from questions about washing machine settings to trouble with professors. link

Things are certainly different than when I went off to school, but I'm not yet sure the sky is falling just because people can call mommy and daddy. I'll need to see a bit of evidence before making a call (pun intended) on this one.


Ellen K said...

Darren, I know your school just went to online gradebooks. What has been your experience with them? In my case, and I have had them for over five years, the students who need help seldom check grades nor do their parents. We are even required to have websites with calendars and documents online. By and large the kids who check it are the kids already making good grades. So if the idea was to help students become more self-reliant,that's not happening. In regards to college, my daughter was an RA, as you know. She would get calls all the time to see if a student was sleeping or taking vitamins or going to class. The bottom line is that if your child hasn't established some ability to manage their own lives by the time you ship them off to college, they will either learn or flunk out.

Darren said...

I teach in the Land of the Helicopter Parent, so online gradebooks have been a godsend :-)

Ellen K said...

I am afflicted with HP's as well. We have parents whose children always seem to have a glib excuse for anything from dress code violations to cheating to cell phones in class. I don't think it's a coincidence that a significant number of the most egregious offenders end up with various court dates for traffic violations, truancy charges and minor in possession charges. Sometimes you have to let them hit bottom.