Turn to tweets and texts, Mom and Dad, because a new study shows parents need to become technologically savvy if they want to improve the relationship they have with their kids. Researchers from the University of Kansas have found that the more modes of communication parents use, the better their kids feel about their relationship.
"A lot of parents might resist new technologies. They don't see the point in them, or they seem like a lot of trouble," said the study’s lead author Jennifer Schon, a doctoral student in communication studies, in a press release. "But this study shows while it might take some work and learning, it would be worth it in the end if you are trying to have a good relationship with your adult child."
Researchers asked 367 young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 how many different ways their parents communicate with them and how happy they were in their relationships. They also reported whether they had used landline phones, cell phones, texting, instant messaging, Snapchat, email, video calls, social networking sites, or online gaming programs, and researchers found that the more ways the communicated, the merrier. They found that the average participant reported using three channels of communication with their parents, but by adding just one additional channel, they could increase their overall relationship quality and satisfaction.
"So, if you are only using one or two technologies to communicate, adding a third might hit the sweet spot for relationship satisfaction," Schon said. "If you realize you are not the best communicator and you don't have the best relationship with your child, adding another channel, such as Facebook or email, might improve the relationship.”
Previously, Schon came to the same conclusion when she looked at how beneficial it was for friends to communicate through different modes of technology. Her parental perspective towards communication is the first of its kind, according to the University of Kansas. Schon said that the better parents were at getting an effective and appropriate message across to their child, the happier the child tended to be. Despite the findings, it’s important to note that a bad communicator who adds more modes of communication won’t automatically see an improvement in their relationship. But a bad communicator will improve, and is more likely to benefit overtime.
"When there was a significant difference in parental satisfaction, it always favored mothers, who the participants had more access with," Schon said. "On cell phones in particular, it was much easier to reach mothers than fathers. Current technologies encourage us to desire connectedness with people we are close to even though we aren't with them all the time.”
Source: Schon J. "Dad Doesn't Text": Examining How Parents' Use of Information Communication Technologies Influences Satisfaction Among Emerging Adult Children. Emerging Adulthood. 2014.