Uber son was looking for advice about where to stay/what to do on a family trip to Williamsbrg, a place we used to visit with him and his sister when they were little kids. Did he call to ask me or his dad? No he did not. He posted the request on his Facebook page. We could add our advice if we had any.
Wondering what costumes the toddler-sized Grands wore on Halloween? No need to ask the parents: Check their Instagram account.
We may complain that social media communication distances us from our grown kids--they seem so much less personal than a phone call--but we might be wrong.
We could improve our relationships with our grown children--the young adults--if we communicate with them through a variety of channels, according to a recent study. Research from the University of Kansas tells us that the relationship satisfaction our emerging-adult kids have with us, their parents, is modestly influenced by the number of communication tools we use to communicate with them. Think: cell phones, email, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, texting.
While a parent's basic communication competency--the ability to get a message across effectively and appropriately--is the best indicator for how happy the child is in the relationship (according to the research), that doesn't mean adding a new tool is necessary. Parents who are already strong communicators won't see much of a difference by adding another way to communicate, but parents who aren't might.
In particular, Schon's research points to fathers who tend to use fewer channels of communication and communicate less frequently and for shorter amounts of time. This should come as no surprise when you read the first part of the title of her research report: "Dad Doesn't Text: Examining How Parents' Use of Information Communication Technologies Influences Satisfaction Among Emerging Adult Children."
Schon's findings are all well and good. Who doesn't want to improve the communication with their offspring--especially when those emerging adults are so busy, busy, busy pushing their parents away. But never forget the other rule of social media: Don't overdo it. No young adult wants mom or dad lurking on their Facebook page or sending them daily barrages of tweets. Moderation in all things all-thumbs.