May 2007




Master of Arts (MA)


Faith Mullen

Primary Subject Area

Speech Communication


Relational Maintenance; Behaviors; Parents; College Freshmen; Instant Messaging; Technology


The present project provides insight concerning possible relational maintenance behaviors (RMB) college freshmen may initiate when communicating with a parent via Instant Messaging (IM). In addressing this topic, the researcher divided the present project into three studies. Study 1 addressed possible RMB within the college freshmen-parent relationship. Study 2 investigated if college freshmen correspond with at least one parent via IM. And Study 3 investigated which RMB from Study 1 were most common in college freshmen-parent interactions via IM. The researcher observed seven RMB in Study 1: openness, assurance, social networks, positivity, shared tasks, advice seeking and worry avoidance. In Study 2, nearly 27% of the college freshmen surveyed testified that they communicate with at least one parent via IM. Finally, in Study 3, social networks ranked the most common RMB while shared tasks and openness ranked the least common RMB practiced via IM. These results suggest that the college freshmen-parent relationship is unique, and that IM can be used to help maintain those relationships.