A recent study reported by the Reuters News Agency has suggested a correlation between the rise of technology and the increase in “helicopter parenting” of college students. Before the proliferation of electronic means of communication such as cell phones, email, texting, etc. many college students telephoned their parents weekly. However, increased technology as well as “the competitive marketplace and jostling for top college slots and the best jobs have boosted the involvement of parents in college lives.” Now, constant communication through various means allows some parents to take their parenting to extreme measures, resulting in so-called helicopter parenting. While most people do expect parents to advise their children through high school, such intrusion in the lives of college students appears detrimental to their development. For example, some parents continue to run their college students’ lives by contacting professors if they are dissatisfied with grades. Such interference inhibits growth and independence and may result in depression.
According to the article, “Researcher Holly Schiffrin from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia found so-called helicopter parenting negatively affected college students by undermining their need to feel autonomous and competent.” The study, which followed almost 300 undergraduates, included a survey of the parenting styles of their mothers as well as their own feelings of autonomy. Researchers then assessed the students’ happiness and satisfaction levels. Mark Grenier of Eton College, a top preparatory academy in Britain, said, “The increase in helicopter parenting in the past 10 years had accompanied a changing attitude towards childhood, with more anxiety and fear over youngsters now seen as being at risk and vulnerable if confronted with failure.” He is now instituting measures to help parents detach a bit and allow their children the opportunity to make their own decisions. Allowing a teenager or young adult to feel competent can carry rewards for the future.