Parents Without Borders : OFW Online Parenting and the Self-Development of Adolescent Left-Behind Children


Labor migration is one of the major pressing issues faced by the Philippine society today. More and more Filipinos are leaving the country to work abroad for greener pastures. This escalating phenomenon has resulted in economic benefits and social costs. As labor migration brings economic prosperity to the country, social and filial relationships are on the brink of collapse.

While millions of Filipinos work overseas either temporarily or permanently, their left-behind children directly carry the burden of living with absentee parents. Through advanced communication technologies such as the latest Internet communication features and tools, long-distance relationships among families thankfully are maintained. Simply put, constant communication remains possible despite the geographical separation.

This study delves on how OFWs used the Internet to parent and influence self concept of left-behind adolescent children. The researcher investigated how OFW parents used various Internet communication features in enacting parenting practices, and how such acts influenced the left-behind children’s development of academic, social, emotional, and physical self concepts.

The study’s framework combined Bowen’s Family Systems Theory, Jesse Delia’s Constructivism Theory, Daft and Lengel’s Media Richness Theory, Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, and Altman and Taylor’s Social Penetration Theory.

The case study was used as the primary method of research. This was supplemented by other methods such as online surveys, focus interviews, and focus group discussions. Pertinent findings revealed that OFW parents utilized the Internet primarily to monitor, guide, admonish, and advise their left-behind children. They also used long- distance mediated communication to express emotions as a compensation for their absence. However, for OFW parents, particularly among OFW fathers, Internet-based parenting was only complementary to the personal parenting of the left-behind parent/guardian. On the one hand, OFW mothers considered Internet communication as a primary form of parenting. When it came to the development of self concept, findings also showed that children with OFW mothers and those with OFW mothers and fathers were negatively influenced by the physical separation due to infrequent Internet-based communication. However, frequent Internet-based parenting positively influenced their academic, social, physical, and emotional self concepts.

As a whole, factors affecting long-distance relationship and development of self concept were parenting style, level of attachment, stability of relationship prior to separation, frequency of communication, manner of parenting, actual physical separation and frequency of Internet-based parenting. In short, online parenting worked along with the above in influencing the self concept of adolescent left-behind children.

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Subject Index: Employment in foreign countries, Parents--Philippines, Parenting--Philippines, Internet, Labor--Philippines