BY ANTON LUCANUS
The smartphone is a hallmark of the age of technology, introducing Millennials to limitless information at the push of a button. As American singer and songwriter, Carrie Underwood, said, “My cell phone is my best friend. It’s my lifeline to the outside world.”
Earlier generations did not have the same freedom with phones as the Millennials. Too much freedom can have its perils, though. As US Senator Kamala Harris has said, “These days, children can text on their cell phone all night long, and no one else is seeing that phone. You don’t know who is calling that child.”
However, there is a positive side to widespread cell phone usage; something parents realized when kids go off to college. Far away from parental control and exuberant in navigating their newly-acquired freedom, college kids shed inhibitions and forget to be responsible. This is a parent’s worst nightmare and they can spend sleepless nights wondering if their kids are safe.
It is a sobering thought for college kids how quickly anticipated fun can turn into disaster. Researchers have found that 1825 college students in the US between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries every year, including motor vehicle crashes. Also, each year, 696,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 become the assault victims of their intoxicated peers. Furthermore, every year, around 97,000 students between 18 and 24 become victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
However, all is not lost, thanks to mobile phones. There are different ways that parents can still get to know what their kids are up to while away at college through various digital tools. For instance, a particular smartphone app alerts a dad if his son is texting while driving. Phone technology goes beyond concerned parents: many businesses utilize call tracking software to gather valuable data on incoming customer calls. With Millennials and Gen Z remaining obsessed with their smartphones, companies have developed apps for parents to tracks their kids’ physical whereabouts and monitor their driving speed.
Some college kids are good at staying in touch and are committed to letting their parents have some peace of mind. For instance, they may call or text on a Sunday morning after late-night partying on Saturday. But there are other college kids who are not conscientious about communicating with parents. In such instances, parents are compelled to get in the driver seat to keep a check on their kids’ movements.
Furthermore, with the high cost of college, parents are concerned about kids doing well in school and graduating on time. There are mobile apps available that allow parents to track how their kid in college is faring, as well as the regularity of their attendance. USA Today, quoting the University of Texas in Austin, says that students who graduate on time will spend 40% less on college fees than students who graduate in six years.
However, many parents will still grit their teeth and wait patiently for kids to contact them, not wanting to be resented or be seen as “helicopter” parents. One mother, Randi Olin, founder of Motherwell, a website that tell all sides of the parenting story, says, “So I wait for her to come to me, and believe that these unexpected, authentic snippets—a quick call on the way back from the gym, a late night text telling me about sorority rush, a brief FaceTime call on the walk back from the library—far outweigh any round-the-clock location tracker.”
One grandmother said, “My theory is, you’ve got to be in the game to help them know what’s wrong and what’s right. Keeping them from it is not going to work. You can either be out there with them in the game — or they’ll be out there without you.”
Lady Bird Johnson, wife of the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, said, “Encourage and support your kids because children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.”
Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to guide current students to achieve personal and academic goals.