With at least 75 percent of teenagers owning cell phones, it’s no surprise that the devices are playing an important role in parenting.

CSUMB’s Rob Weisskirch, a professor in the Liberal Studies Department, is among the researchers investigating how cell phones affect the parent-teen relationship.

In a study reported online in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Dr. Weisskirch found that the nature of the calls and who initiates them can affect the relationship.

He told the New York Times: “What I found generally was that when adolescents are initiating the communication and are seeking out social support and guidance from their parents, then almost across the board they tend to have better reports of getting along with their parents.”

Dr. Rob WeisskirchBut, “when the parents call and have a lot of communication around ‘what are you doing?’ or ‘who are you with?’ or when they’re angry at the child and upset or scared, the kids report more conflict in the family,” Dr. Weisskirch told the Times.

Ultimately, his study shows, the phone is a tool that may augment the parent-teen relationship but doesn’t substitute for it.

Dr. Weisskirch has been at CSUMB since 2001. He earned a Ph.D. in human development from the University of California, Davis, in 1999, a Master of Social Work degree from San Diego State University in 1994, a Clear Professional Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential from the University of California, Irvine, in 1992 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and minor in Spanish in 1991.

He was a lecturer at CSU Fullerton from 1998 to 2001, a clinical social worker in family service agencies and foster care group homes, and as an elementary school teacher.

His research interests are the effects of language brokering on children (i.e., when children acts as translators for parents and other adults), acculturation, and ethnic identity development. In addition, he studies the effect of technology on adolescent relationships.

The New York Times article can be found here