Our college freshman daughter is attending school in Florida which is a long way from where she grew up in Connecticut (which got dumped on by a freak late October snowstorm this weekend). For her, having her parents come to visit for parents weekend was even more important than it was to other students since most of her classmates are Florida residents and see their families more regularly.
Something I noticed over the course of the three days was how frequently the students and parents were using their mobile phones to communicate and to find things over the weekend. Our daughter would text her friends to find out where they were, where they were going, and who they were with. This coordination was important in making the experience better for all. In turn the parents (me included) and students would search out restaurants, movies and other activities).
Even at the football game I observed both parents and students checking their mobile phones at various points during the contest (there are many television time outs which means no real on-field action is being missed). After the game we knew exactly where and when to meet up with some of our daughter’s friends and their parents.
The moment to moment usage of mobile devices has inexorably changed college parent’s weekend forever – and for the better. When we are on our way to pick up our daughter we can text her when in the past you’d have to pre-arrange the time since there was a time not too long ago where there were not even phones in the dorm rooms much less mobile phones. Thankfully I did not see evidence of Moms, Dads and students all sitting around a table NOT talking and staring at their mobile phones. But I am betting that happened, I just did not witness it.
The mobile experience also allows for information to be shared between parents of fellow students that have just met. Discussions of future living arrangements are not practical during a whirlwind parent’s weekend and sharing contact information is easier on a mobile device and allows for a conversation at a less hectic moment.
I got a sense of a close knit community at parent’s weekend that I had not considered before. It’s a far cry from when I went to college and had the weekly phone call with my parents from the dorm hallway. In those days the calls were considered ‘long distance’ and the cost of those phone calls was a substantial consideration. I know that might be hard to believe for today’s college students.
Our mobile lives are getting more so. Do you think this is a good thing or bad thing?
I am on my way to China for the next two weeks so my next post will be from the other side of the world.