Information for the parents of college students
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Book Review: The iConnected Parent

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years.  We’ve created lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone.  Please check out our Resources and Tools page for suggestions.

The iConnected Parent: Staying Close to Your Kids in College (and Beyond) While Letting Them Grow Up
by Barbara K Hofer and Abigail Sullivan Moore should be required reading for any parent sending his or her child away to college. The authors perceptively hold a mirror up to allow parents to see themselves and understand why we feel the need to be so involved in and connected to our children’s lives.

Hofer and Moore begin by exploring the cultural forces that have influenced parents to become so involved in their children’s lives and then explore the technology that allows and encourages that involvement.  We like that the authors explore both the positive as well as the negative influences of parental involvement, pointing out the increased closeness between parents and their college aged children.  However, parents need to heed the authors’ strong statement that iConnected parenting is “deeply affecting students academically, socially, and professionally.  It is influencing how they experience college, and even the years after that.  It is shaping how they feel about themselves and their parents, and it shapes how others view them.  In the long run, for many young people iConnected parenting is putting their passage to adulthood on indefinite hold.”

We like, too, that the authors continue to say, “There are ways to successfully navigate this world of close connections, to help young people get the most out of college, grow into competent adults, and feel authentically good about themselves and their parents.”  This book recognizes a trend and potential problem, but offers concrete suggestions for a solution.

The iConnected Parent is easy to read because of its comfortable style, straightforward approach, and many interesting case studies.  Many parents will find this book difficult to read, however, because they will see themselves described in various scenarios.  We recommend that those parents who find this hardest to read continue reading.  Those of us who see ourselves described in these pages may need this book most.

Each chapter of the book ends with a section called “Advice to Parents.”  We appreciate this practical approach.  Just when we may be feeling overwhelmed by how difficult it is going to be to maintain balance in our connection with our students, we have some suggestions about how to put what we’ve read into action.

There are several good “transition to college” books available to parents.  The iConnected Parent should take its place among them.  Every parent with a high school student contemplating college (or even those who may not head to college) or with a student already in college, should have this book on an easily reached shelf.

About the authors:

Barbara K Hofer, PhD., is a professor of psychology at Middlebury College.  She conducts research and teaches about adolescence and the transition to adulthood.  She is the parent of a daughter and son who recently completed college.  Dr. Hofer began to wonder about technology and its effect on college student development as she watched the students in her classes.  To her, it seemed that some students seemed unprepared for college because their parents had been overly involved in monitoring their work in high school.  Along with some of her students, she began to explore how the frequency of communication with parents, made possible by cell phones, was related to becoming emotionally, behaviorally, and academically independent.

Abigail Sullivan Moore has be a regular contributor to the New York Times, writing about high school, college, and university issues.  She is the parent of two boys – one in college and the other in middle school.  As a reporter, Abby became interested in the relationship between parents and students and how cell phones and technology is affecting that relationship.

The two authors met during an interview as Abby pursued a story on this new generation of superconnected parents.  Together they share the results of their reporting and research, offering insights into these cultural changes.

What the authors have to say about the book:

“Cell phones and the Internet have changed how parents and students communicate during the college years and beyond.  We call these caring moms and dads iConnected Parents. They represent a new era in parenting: a potent new mix of devoted parent, guide, and friend, fluent in speed-dial, Facebook, and the flick of a mouse.”

We show how technology is changing the dynamics of parent and child relationships, the college experience, and the work world.

Many parents want to know exactly how much and how little to communicate with their growing adult children, and just aren’t sure what’s best.  That’s another reason we wrote this book: to provide some guidelines for parents and also to show that this new closeness of communication does have its benefits as well as some drawbacks.  In these stories you will also see the many different factors to consider when determining the right amount of communication for you and your child.  “

“Our ability to communicate with each other so easily seems to have happened overnight.  But our cell phones and laptops didn’t come with instructions on how to parent with them.  Many parents want guidance on how to be connected in a healthy way to their college kids (and in the years just before and after college too).  We provide that advice, drawing on our research, psychological expertise, and real stories of students, parents, college administrators, professors, psychiatrists, and others.”

What others have to say about the book:

“Some of the real-life stories you’ll read are jaw-dropping, some simply eye-opening, and all of the advice is practical and easy to apply.”

Wendy Mogel, PH.D.

Author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee

“The road to adulthood is longer than ever, and in some ways more challenging than ever for emerging adults and their parents.  This book provides excellent information and insights about how parents can help their emerging adults navigate this road – but also about what the limits should be and how parents can learn to let go.”

Jeffrey Jensen Arnnett, Clark University

Author of Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties

“Every parent of a college-bound high school student should read this book!  Hofer and Moore provide a realistic view on technology-enhanced parenting with a sincerity, humor, and wit that is uncommon in other books on this topic.  The authors provide sound advice for parents in considering appropriate boundaries for contacting their college students via e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging, and the ever present mobile phone/device, while encouraging students to advocate for themselves.”

Beverly Low

Dean of First Year Students, Colgate University

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