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Going to College  & Staying Connected  Communication Between College    Freshmen and Their ParentsMadeline Smith, Mary Ngu...
Common Life Changes    • New job or school    • Residential move    • Relationship change                            Image...
Transitions Are Stressful    • Transitions disrupt daily life    • Many are associated with illness onset      [Holmes &Ra...
Social Support Can Help    • People use coping measures     [Billings & Moos, 1981]    • Social support can buffer stress ...
Going to College is a Big Change    • Major turning point in students’ lives      [Flanagan et al., 1993] [LaValle et al.,...
Families Communicate Online    • Families are online and communicating     [Check & Katz, 2009] [Yardi&Bruckman, 2011]    ...
Research Questions  1. How do first-year college students who are     away from home for the first time choose     among a...
Method   • Semi-structured interviews     – Communication tools used with parents     – Role of communication in relations...
Participants        • 19 freshmen
Use of CMC Tools With Parents100%          100%90%80%                     79%70%                               68%60%50%40...
Research Questions  1. How do first-year college students who are     away from home for the first time choose     among a...
Convenience    • Most frequently mentioned    • Convenient tools used more often    • Inconvenient tools used less often  ...
Weighing Social Cues    • Enjoyed rich, personal conversations    • Trade-off to reveal more information    • Privacy conc...
Managing Multiple Media    • Switch depending on conversation    • Social norms around uses    • Level of required involve...
Overcoming the Generation Gap    • Students limited by parents abilities    • Some parents open to trying new tools    • C...
Face Management   • Tension about information sharing   • Effort to limit what parents see   • Some students willing to sh...
Choosing & Using CMC Tools   • Complex decisions about tool use   • Communicating to stay in touch   • Adds new dimensions...
Research Questions  2. How do these communication tools     contribute to the changes in student-parent     relationships ...
Distance Changes Relationships    • Student-parent dynamics changing    • A few students felt nature unchanged    • Some r...
“Normal” Relationships    • Amount of communication    • Compared to peers    • Technology changes expectations           ...
Student-Parent Relationships    • Relationships changed in various ways    • More communication with technology    • Incre...
Summary   • Tools used by students and parents   • Student’s considerations for tools   • Impact on relationships with par...
Implications    • Technology use is important during the      transition to college    • Need to maintain relationships fo...
Moving Forward    • More diverse populations    • Focus on relationships over tools    • Explore parents’ perspectives    ...
Thank you! Madeline E. Smithmes369@cornell.edu
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CSCW 2012: Going to College & Staying Connected

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Going to College and Staying Connected:
Communication Between College
Freshmen and Their Parents

Madeline Smith, Duyen Nguyen, Charles
Lai, Gilly Leshed, Eric Baumer

Presented at CSCW 2012, Bellevue, WA

We studied the ways in which college
freshmen communicate with their
parents and the communication
technologies they use. Interviews
with students revealed insights
into students’ communication an

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CSCW 2012: Going to College & Staying Connected

  1. 1. Going to College & Staying Connected Communication Between College Freshmen and Their ParentsMadeline Smith, Mary Nguyen, Charles Lai, Gilly Leshed, & Eric Baumer CSCW 2012 – February 14, 2012
  2. 2. Common Life Changes • New job or school • Residential move • Relationship change Image: Change by Rickydavid on flickr
  3. 3. Transitions Are Stressful • Transitions disrupt daily life • Many are associated with illness onset [Holmes &Rahe, 1967] • Such as loneliness & depression [Paykel et al., 1969] Image: Depressed by Sander van der Wel on flickr
  4. 4. Social Support Can Help • People use coping measures [Billings & Moos, 1981] • Social support can buffer stress [Cohen & Wills, 1985] • Moving disrupts support networks [Shklovski et al., 2008] Image: hug a mom (5 pts) by miguelavila on flickr
  5. 5. Going to College is a Big Change • Major turning point in students’ lives [Flanagan et al., 1993] [LaValle et al., 2011] • Friendships are changing [Cummings et al., 2006] [Ellison et al, 2007] • Relationships with parents can help [Wintre&Yaffe, 2000] Image: Dorm Life by borman818 on flickr
  6. 6. Families Communicate Online • Families are online and communicating [Check & Katz, 2009] [Yardi&Bruckman, 2011] • Students & parents are getting closer [Sax &Wartman, 2010] [Hofer, 2008] • Using tech to keep in touch after move [Gentzler et al., 2011] Image: Facebook Demo by schramroyal on flickr
  7. 7. Research Questions 1. How do first-year college students who are away from home for the first time choose among and manage multiple tools for communicating with their parents? 2. How do these communication tools contribute to the changes in student-parent relationships during this period?
  8. 8. Method • Semi-structured interviews – Communication tools used with parents – Role of communication in relationship • Iterative open-coding
  9. 9. Participants • 19 freshmen
  10. 10. Use of CMC Tools With Parents100% 100%90%80% 79%70% 68%60%50%40% 47%30% 32%20%10% 16% 0% Phone Calls Email Text Video Calls Facebook Instant Messages Messages
  11. 11. Research Questions 1. How do first-year college students who are away from home for the first time choose among and manage multiple tools for communicating with their parents?
  12. 12. Convenience • Most frequently mentioned • Convenient tools used more often • Inconvenient tools used less often Image: Shiara, recursive by genericavatar on flickr
  13. 13. Weighing Social Cues • Enjoyed rich, personal conversations • Trade-off to reveal more information • Privacy concerns in dorm rooms Image: Skype by Joe Shlabotnik on flickr
  14. 14. Managing Multiple Media • Switch depending on conversation • Social norms around uses • Level of required involvement Image: An overload of communications by windsordi on flickr
  15. 15. Overcoming the Generation Gap • Students limited by parents abilities • Some parents open to trying new tools • Creative solutions Image: dad, mom and me - 1969 by freeparking on flickr
  16. 16. Face Management • Tension about information sharing • Effort to limit what parents see • Some students willing to share all Images: studying and candid by English106 on flickr
  17. 17. Choosing & Using CMC Tools • Complex decisions about tool use • Communicating to stay in touch • Adds new dimensions to relationships Image: Technology on Fieldtrips by geographyalltheway.com on flickr
  18. 18. Research Questions 2. How do these communication tools contribute to the changes in student-parent relationships during this period?
  19. 19. Distance Changes Relationships • Student-parent dynamics changing • A few students felt nature unchanged • Some relationships improved Image: Long Distance by Joe Thorn on flickr
  20. 20. “Normal” Relationships • Amount of communication • Compared to peers • Technology changes expectations Image: Call Your Mom by Divine Madness on flickr
  21. 21. Student-Parent Relationships • Relationships changed in various ways • More communication with technology • Increased expectations Image: Freshman Orientation 2011- Farewells by Lafayette College on flickr
  22. 22. Summary • Tools used by students and parents • Student’s considerations for tools • Impact on relationships with parents Image: DSC01116 by brent.holden on flickr
  23. 23. Implications • Technology use is important during the transition to college • Need to maintain relationships for support while dynamics are changing Image: College Graduation by brixton on flickr
  24. 24. Moving Forward • More diverse populations • Focus on relationships over tools • Explore parents’ perspectives Image: moving forward by leslie feinberg on flickr
  25. 25. Thank you! Madeline E. Smithmes369@cornell.edu

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