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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

A “what’s up?” text. A smiling photo. A text with a heart.

This might be the type of message you expect to receive from a friend or a significant other.

But as UF students get into the swing of a busy school year, hovering parents are using their newfound smartphone skills to keep in constant communication — whether their kids like the idea or not.

“My mom texts me all the time,” said Jillian Guthrie, 18-year-old microbiology and cell science freshman. “I love my mom, and I’m appreciative of all she’s done, but I don’t want to be constantly texting her.”

And it’s not just the texts. When freshmen log into Facebook, usually, those 18 notifications aren’t from their BFFs.

“My mom will go on Facebook and message me and say, ‘Jordyn, how do I do this? How do I do that? I don’t know what I’m doing!’” said 18-year-old psychology freshman Jordyn Middlebrooks.

Then the texting starts.

It starts off small, with, “How was your day?” Then it grows to reminders to call home. Before some students know it, parents are blowing up their children’s phones with little reminders — “Don’t forget to tip your cab driver!!” — and photos of family pets.

“When she does text, it’s always 10 questions at a time,” she said.

The texting makes her mom feel more comfortable, Middlebrooks said, but sometimes she looks at the messages and can’t help but groan.

Mitchell McGahan, an 18-year-old finance freshman, said his mother continues to text him four or five times a day. It is her way to say she misses him.

As smartphones become more common and unlimited, the growing parental phenomenon has spread to upperclassmen, too.

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Junior Emily Thraen, 20, remembered her mother’s separation anxiety from her freshman year vividly. Two years later, her mom still hovers.

She “posts and comments on every single thing I put on Facebook.”

But some students like the connection, saying technology aids in communication to simulate the face-to-face talk they had at home.

Daniel Ditaranto, 19-year-old criminology and law freshman, said he’s appreciative that technology makes it easy to contact his parents.

“The added communication makes things better,” he said. “I live four hours away, and it makes the gap smaller.”

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