Social presence support between college students and their parents: A comparison of communication channels

Sequeira, Angela
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Research has shown that how students communicate with their parents while away at college influences how well they adjust to college. Conveying social support is especially important in these interactions, but little is known about what channels are most effective in this specific context. Media Richness Theory suggests that channels with more cues should be more effective than channels with fewer cues. For this study, 104 college students completed a survey measuring the amount of social presence support for communicating via telephone calls and via texting. Results supported Media Richness Theory, as students reported significantly higher levels of social presence support through telephone calls than through texting. However, texting was found to be a better statistical predictor of social presence support since people reported using texting much more than telephone calls. These findings indicate that although telephone is better at conveying social presence support, students rely more on texting. Because of this, future research should consider using texting as a predictor in relationship quality measures. Additionally, these results should be further explored to determine if they have significant effects on stress levels, which could help inform counselors and therapists in helping students cope with homesickness and other college adjustment issues.