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Social media: The new normal in divorced parent-child relationships

Many parents worry about “screen time.” But the same technological advancements that give moms and dads pause may also be helping divorced families to bond more effectively.

A recent study published by the Journal of Family Issues looked at data culled from almost 400 divorced men and women and their relationship with children between 10 and 18 years old. Researchers concluded that ongoing communication ranked as a primary factor in fostering close relationships.

Technology offers high-value communication

Researchers found that familial closeness with children appeared to be higher among people who communicated often and directly, even electronically. Although discipline and parental cohesion were previously ranked among the best ways to co-parent after divorce, one-on-one interaction showed the largest benefits in the study.

What may surprise parents is that parent-child communication benefited tremendously from the use of technology when the family members could not be together. Posts on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and others were a viable way to maintain ongoing communication between parents and children between real-time interactions and visitation. Texting also provided connectivity that helped parents and children bond.

Texting is the way tweens and teens communicate

For parents who are skeptical about the value of electronic communication, it’s important to keep in mind that messaging via devices and social media platforms is widely considered the new normal. Receiving a text or social media link is an acceptable form of personal interactions in children’s eyes. It’s the same way they communicate with friends. In many ways, electronic communications are no different from the long, heartfelt phone calls people enjoyed years ago.

The value of the recent study may be that divorced parents can rest a little easier knowing that texting and social media messaging helps maintain a strong parent-child relationship, even if they must be apart at times.