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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kids Talk To Parents On the Net

WASHINGTON -- Rebecca Cole didn't talk to her parents much when she lived at home with them in Arlington, Virginia.

"She was the kind of kid who would come in the house and go up to her room and turn on the stereo," her father said.

But since she went off to Colby College in Maine last month, Cole has been sharing with them details of her life as a freshman -- what she thinks of her classes, the difficulties of making new friends and how much she misses home. Much to their surprise, her parents hear from their 18-year-old daughter several times a day.

It may sound strange, the Coles say, but there's no doubt that e-mail has made them a closer family.

"I can ask her questions that she would never answer in person, but she'll sit down and e-mail," said Steve Cole, 47, who, in turn, has e-mailed his daughter about the personalities he deals with at the office. "The kind of communication we have now certainly is much richer than we had when we were face to face."

By now, most parents who send a son or daughter off to college know all about the availability of e-mail on campus. What many of them don't expect is that their children will become frequent and enthusiastic e-mail correspondents.

Sue Unger, of Rockville, Maryland, a public librarian who gives seminars on the Internet, said that for all her computer literacy, she had no idea how much she and her daughter would use e-mail.

She and her husband, Alan, assumed Sarah, a junior at the University of Rochester in New York, would rely mostly on the telephone.

"We knew that she might e-mail, but we didn't realize she'd e-mail quite so often," Unger, 53, said.

More than 7 million of the nation's 9 million students at four-year colleges use e-mail regularly, according to IDC/Link, a New York-based market research firm.

There are no statistics on how many students are sending e-mail home. But college administrators say it happens routinely, and e-mailing how-to has become part of the standard information to parents for many colleges.