Changes in Parent-Student Text Message and Phone Call Communication During the Transition to College as Predictors of Cannabis and Simultaneous Use During the First Year


  • Reed Morgan Fordham University
  • Bradley Trager Loyola Marymount University
  • Sarah Boyle Loyola Marymount University
  • Layla Rainosek Loyola Marymount University
  • Joseph LaBrie Loyola Marymount University


Parent communication can be protective against cannabis use among young adults. However, changes in parent-student communication frequency naturally occur during the transition from high school to college. Recent research suggests declines in parent-student communication frequency predict increased drinking and consequences during the first year of college, yet these effects on other risky behaviors are unknown. The current study investigated whether post-matriculation changes in frequency of texting/calling with parents predict cannabis use and simultaneous use of cannabis and alcohol, and whether pre-matriculation cannabis and simultaneous use predict changes in communication. First-year students (N = 287, 61.3% female, 50.9% White) reported cannabis and simultaneous use pre- and post-matriculation (T1 & T3) and changes in frequency of texting/calling their mother/father per day (T2). Negative binomial hurdle models examined whether T2 changes in communication frequency predicted T3 cannabis and simultaneous use, and logistic regression models examined whether T1 cannabis and simultaneous use predicted T2 changes in communication frequency. Results revealed that increasing (vs. decreasing) frequency of calling with mothers and texting with fathers was protective against cannabis use, whereas increasing frequency of calling with fathers was associated with greater risk of use. Changes in communication did not significantly predict simultaneous use, nor did pre-matriculation cannabis or simultaneous use predict changes in either mode of communication with parents during the college transition. These findings highlight that changes in mother and father communication may be both beneficial and detrimental to cannabis use depending on the parent and mode of communication. Implications for these findings are discussed.






Original Report