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Study: Texting your college freshman helps them succeed

There are plenty of nicknames given to over-protective parents, such as "helicopter mom."

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Julia Fello
MILWAUKEE, WI — There are plenty of nicknames given to over-protective parents, such as "helicopter mom."

But, a UW-Milwaukee assistant professor proved those parents who don't cut the "electrical umbilical cord" actually help their college freshman flourish.

"You get a lot of freedom that you've had before and sometimes that can be a little overwhelming," said Erin Ruppel, Asst. Professor of Communication.

This reality spurred assistant professor Ruppel to find out if "helicopter parents" help or hurt freshman at UWM and Texas State University.

"I was surprised that talking on the phone, the phone calls didn't make a difference. It was all about the texting. Texting is what helps," said Ruppel.

She showed us an example of one student in the study going through a hectic day. The student texted their parent about 30 times.

17 percent of students in the study had low social skills. She spotted a direct correlation that when the stress level went up among the group who are not social butterflies, their texting skyrocketed.

"Maybe its just easing the landing, softening the landing a little bit for them, and they've grown up communicating with their parents all the time," said Ruppel.

Students in the study with good social skills picked up the telephone to call home. Whether it's calling or texting, Ruppel says your freshman does not need you to solve their problems. Your words of encouragement make all the difference.

The professor does not want parents to overcompensate and text their children more. They will reach out to you when they need you.

Students by far favored texting mom over dad in this study.

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