As thousands of young people prepare to fly the nest for university this week, a new study by Endsleigh, has revealed an emerging generation of internet-savvy students and midlife parents is significantly changing the way families are now keeping in touch.
According to the study, parents rely heavily on social media platforms like Facebook to keep tabs on their children once they’ve left home, with 75% admitting to regularly checking their profiles to see what they’ve been up to. However interestingly, only 36% of the 18-25 year olds surveyed are actually friends with their parents on Facebook and almost three quarters (72%) deliberately choose not to be as they do not want their parents seeing personal pictures and messages.
The study also shows that 72% of 18-25 year olds who have left home now use the internet to communicate with their parents – 36% via email, 23% use social media and 13% Skype. Mobile phones are almost as popular to keep in touch, with 70% using their handsets to call home and 60% to send text messages to their parents.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, only 7% of young people use post to keep in touch with their parents, which has reduced considerably from previous generations – 25% of 45+ year old midlife parents surveyed in the same study used post to stay in touch with their parents when they first left home.
When it comes to working out how to do basic household tasks, young people are becoming increasingly independent and self-reliant, with 44% of 18-25 year olds choosing to use self-help websites such as YouTube or VideoJug to find out how to boil an egg, work a washing machine or iron a shirt, compared to only 20% contacting home.
However despite the rise in usage of the internet and social media, young people are getting more homesick than ever – 62% of the 18-25 years surveyed confessed to missing home when they first left, compared to 55% of the 45+ year olds who were asked the same question about when they first left home.
Young people still need the emotional support of parents, with 67% confessing that the main reason they contact home is for a general catch up. Surprisingly, only 13% of the young people surveyed contact home to ask for money.
Commenting on the findings, Relationship Expert Christine Webber said: “These days parents are becoming less anxious about their kids flying the nest as there are so many different ways to keep in touch, but they must be careful not to invade their privacy by checking up on them too much. However it seems nothing can replace the comfort of the human voice, which is why so many students still need to ring home for a regular catch up.”
Aaron Porter, NUS President, added, “Students are becoming increasingly self-reliant and their faithful laptop has played a massive role in this, almost becoming a surrogate parent as they use it to keep in touch, share information and find out how to do things. However, parents can still play an important role by ensuring that things like anti-virus software and insurance is covered. Many students would feel as if they had lost their right arm if their laptop was lost or stolen so setting up insurance means one less thing to worry about.”
Endsleigh’s student possession report published last month revealed that every student surveyed returning to university for the start of the new term will be taking either a laptop (94%) or a desktop computer (6%) with them. The same study also showed that today’s students carry over £1,300 worth of goods on them on their person around town and campus.