Electronic Communications Technologies and the Transition to College: Links to Parent-Child Attachment and Adjustment
Author(s): Sarigiani, P. A., Trumbell, J. M., & Camarena, P. M.
Citation: Sarigiani, P. A., Trumbell, J. M., & Camarena, P. M. (2013). Electronic Communications Technologies and the Transition to College: Links to Parent-Child Attachment and Adjustment. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 25(1), 35-60.
Electronic communications technologies (ECTs) help college students and parents remain in contact. Because recent reports have emphasized a link between ECTs, helicopter parenting, and autonomy issues, this study focused on the significance of contact patterns for attachment and student adjustment. First-semester college students (199 female, 81 male; mean age = 18.12 years) completed an online survey examining parent contact, attachment, shyness, and college adjustment. Students with frequent contact scored significantly higher on mother attachment but did not differ from the rest of the sample on father attachment, shyness, or adjustment. Mother and father attachment were positively associated with adjustment. Within the subsample of students with frequent parent contact (n = 59), students with poor adjustment were significantly more likely to report exhibiting greater shyness, having poorer father attachment, and being from divorced families compared to students with positive adjustment. Qualitative comparisons revealed additional adjustment group differences. Findings confirmed that, while technology facilitates frequent contact, this contact may reflect secure attachment as well as problems with developmental tasks.