Technology Allows College Students to Stay Attached to Friends and Family at Home

(p. C5) I sometimes forget that my daughter has left for college. She Facetimes me on her way from the library to the gym. I see a small portion of her head, blue sky behind her, headphones dangling from an ear, part of a cup of coffee. She texts me updates on her failing quest to find the right edition of “The Waste Land” for one of her classes. I am still part of the dailiness of her life in a way that I am quite sure my mother was not in mine when I left for college in the last century.

My daughter also stays in close contact with her friends from home via group texts, Snapchat, TikTok, private Instagram stories. They are warm, vivid presences in her life that would likely have faded in a different technological moment.

While I remember high-school friends drifting, high-school boyfriends vanishing by winter break, many people she knows have romantic interests from home that endure. After all, their relationships with their new friends are also, to some degree, on the phone. With smartphones, physical presence becomes less important; it is no longer necessary to be with someone to communicate incessantly with them. The people in front of you comprise only one of many social situations you have access to.

. . .

Some part of me wonders if there aren’t benefits to this new way of being, along with the obvious downsides. My daughter is attached to her college friends and her friends from home. She is almost living in two places simultaneously; she is inhabiting more than one possible world.

For the full commentary, see:

Katie Roiphe. “Even at College, Our Children Are Home.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, January 29, 2022): C5.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the same date as the print version, and has the same title as the print version.)

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