Dannenbaum Law Firm, PLLC

Social media, texting may help children cope with divorce

Social isolation and cyberbullying are some of the less savory aspects of modern communications that may have some Virginia parents understandably concerned. However, there are some positive things about the way kids today prefer to communicate, especially when family dynamics change because of a divorce. A new study concluded that such technology can help maintain important parent-child relationships post-divorce.

Mental health experts once believed how well parents were able to get along after a divorce affected a child's ability to cope. To determine if this was still true, researchers looked at data from several hundred parents who were no longer wed and had children ranging in age from 10 to 18. After identifying several coparenting arrangements, the study team determined that the frequency of communication mattered more.

Divorced parents that communicated via talking or messaging with their children once a month or less reported not being as in the know about what was going on with them. However, as the frequency of contact increased, the better the parent-child relationship was. The results prompted researchers to recommend that children be permitted to maintain direct contact with parents that live outside of the home if they are old enough to responsibly communicate on phones and computers or various social platforms. A psychologist commenting on the study agrees with the conclusions and points out that children place more value in social media and text-based interactions.

Barring instances where any form of communication has to be cleared with the custodial parent, there is normally no legal reason why children cannot maintain contact directly with their other parents with texts, video chats and similar methods. A family law attorney may be of assistance if there is an attempt by one parent to prevent direct communication, or there is a belief that messages exchanged are inappropriate or potentially harmful to the child.

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