Next time we're tempted to complain about technology and what it's doing to change our world, and our relationships we might want to stop for a moment and think this through a bit more. Being able to text, email and "facebook" parents has been shown by a researcher from the University of Kansas to be very important for young adults. Researcher, Jennifer Schon, found that adult children's relationship satisfaction with their parents is modestly influenced by the number of communication tools that they use to communicate. Her research is the first to look at communication between young adults and their parents.
The research included young adults aged between 18 and 29 completing a survey on three things:
1. What methods of communication they used to connect with their parents, including landline phones, mobile phones, texts, instant messaging, Snapchat, emails, video calls, social networking sites and online gaming networks.
2. How often they used the technology.
3. How satisfied they were in their relationship with their mum and dad.
The research found that adding an additional channel of communication has a modest increase in relationship quality and satisfaction. On average, participants reported using about three channels to communicate with parents.
The research also served to reinforce what has been shown in previous research over several decades that the capacity of parents to communicate well with their children makes the biggest difference to the relationship. Parents who experience difficulty communicating are most likely to benefit from adding additional communication tools. This was highlighted in the research for fathers who tended to use fewer channels of communication and communicated less frequently and for shorter amounts of time. Mothers in the research were found to be much easier to reach on mobile phones than fathers.
The frequency of communication is also important, with, not surprisingly, more being better. The purpose of communication was also recognised with some messages sent simply to maintain contact, rather than convey important pieces of information.
This research highlights the importance of the parent-child connection which we now know extends throughout childhood into adolescence and adulthood.Technology can play a crucial role in helping us to communicate in ways that increase that sense of family connection.