Parents are using Facebook and WhatsApp groups to keep tabs on their kids who are away at college, sometimes arranging “playdates” and haircuts on their behalf.
In an article from The Cut, moms revealed some of the most shocking posts on various message boards, including a parent wondering how their daughter can ask for more space in her dorm mini-fridge and another requesting the best places their college student could get a haircut.
One parent named Jennifer considered quitting the Facebook group she joined for parents of first-year students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison when she looked for information on what to pack her son for his freshman dorm experience.
“Make sure you stick a pool noodle in the gap between the wall and the bed,” one member suggested.
“As soon as you’re telling me to buy a pool noodle so my precious son’s precious phone doesn’t fall on the floor if he drops it, I’m out,” Jennifer told the outlet.
Most Facebook groups for parents of college students are often organized school-wide, while others refer to a specific graduating class, dorm, or extracurricular activity.
The marketing agency Ellison Ellery said parents often run the groups themselves, while university employees moderate. This hierarchy can drive revenue by increasing student enrollment and maintaining high retention rates.
Parents reportedly described the groups to The Cut as “landing pads for helicopter parents short on fuel who want to orchestrate their kids’ lives at the precise moment they are meant to become independent.”
“People would ask where their kid should get her balayage done or who should do their son’s laundry. Or people would rant, ‘Can you believe it? We paid this much money and my kid can’t get into the class he wants.’ That’s how it goes. You didn’t register fast enough,” Mary, whose daughter graduated from Syracuse University, said.
One parent allegedly complained that the school had not cleared the campus paths of snow as students attended classes.
“This is Syracuse — it snows 100 inches every winter. Do they really expect the paths to be cleared 24/7?” Mary said.
Miami resident Amanda, who has two kids away at college, said she is “obsessed” with the online parent groups because they often produce “insane content.”
“People will ask, ‘My kid is in X class. Does anyone know what the curve is going to be?’ Or ‘Has anyone’s kid taken calculus? Is it hard?’ And then there will be questions like, ‘Where should my kid get their hair cut?’ This is a kid you sent off to live on their own. Could they ask an RA or do a Google search?” she said.
Manhattan mom Ali revealed that dozens of parents in her online group offered up their kids for a “playdate” and others complained that their child had no friends.
One shared an idea that worked for their kid: “She organized a listening party to the Taylor Swift album drop in the fall and she brought back a game or two with the idea of throwing a game night??”
Ali also revealed that, after realizing her son had been served non-vegan food at the University of Chicago dining hall, she passed along the contact information for the higher-up faculty he could notify.
Temple University psychology professor Laurence Steinberg told The Cut that the current generation has been highly involved in their kid’s lives “from the get-go” and may find it hard to stop behaving in an overbearing way.
“Many simply don’t know what their kids’ abilities are because they don’t have a lot of evidence one way or the other,” Steinberg said.
He added that parent Facebook groups can be helpful so long as parents pass on their information to their kids rather than act independently for them.