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Study: Electronics help relationship for kids, divorced parents

As parents, we're always concerned about our children and their use of electronics. There's the potential for addiction to their devices, exposure to things we don't want them to see online, cyberbullying, and when they get older, distracted driving.

But according to one study, there's a huge advantage for kids who have access to social media and texting: communication with parents after a divorce.

Cellphones have allowed noncustodial parents and their kids to stay in touch with much greater frequency than in the past. Not only can a parent send a morning text that says, "Have a great day at school" or a bedtime "Sleep tight. I love you" message, but the kids also can share pictures of their day, and that parent remains in the loop.

And another advantage is that two parents who might not have a great relationship don't have to be part of the conversation – or can't keep kids from talking to their other parent.

It's been theorized through the years that the relationship between parents can affect the parent-child relationship. Having an always-open line of communication only can help.

"Make sure you're having consistent and frequent contact with your child. If it's in person, that's fantastic. But in between, reach out to your child, by text or Facebook or other social media. Letting your child know that you're there and you care is really important," said the co-author of the study, who is an associate professor at Kansas State University.

The professor and her colleagues studied nearly 400 divorced parents of children between 10 and 18 years old. The researchers determined that the more contact the parents had with their kids, the better their relationship. They added that if the child is old enough to use a tablet, computer or cellphone, the non-custodial parent should be allowed to get in touch with the child without any intervention.

So when making child custody arrangements, one thing parents should agree on is access to electronics, while jointly setting proper boundaries for their use. Kids love both their parents and should have access to both.

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