“Long-Distance Parenting”: A Media Ecological Study on Values Communication Between Migrant Parents and Their Children in Paete, Laguna

  • Paoloregel Samonte


Fundamental changes in communication technologies have rendered unprecedented transformation in various realms of human experience, including interpersonal relationships. Such changes at the micro level determine patterns of social transformations that shape experiences and discourses on human development at the societal level. This study delved into the dynamic interactions of communication technologies and communication practices of migrant parents and their left-behind children in the Philippines as they struggle to keep their families intact in the face of socio-economic and cultural realities of international migration. Specifically, the study sought to describe and interrogate how the communication of values, from the perspective of left-behind children, is shaped by the choice and use of various communication media in a transnational family setting.

Theoretical sampling was applied in choosing the participants for this case study. Research methods such as in-depth interviews and local storytelling techniques in the Philippines such as pagpapakuwento and pakikipagkwentuhan were employed in gathering the stories from the left-behind children.

Research findings revealed that migrant parents’ and their children’s choice of communication medium is heavily dependent upon the (1) family’s socio-economic status; (2) location of the migrant parent; (3) availability of the communication media; and (4) features of the communication media. With these considerations, migrant parents and their children mostly communicate via telephone, mobile phone, and video calls.

The thematic analysis of stories also revealed that there are three values highly emphasized by migrant parents in communicating with their children. These are (1) love for the family; (2) value for education; and (3) love for the self. The importance of education is very evident.

The quality of values communication between migrant parents and their children relied on their choice of medium. Telephone and mobile calls enable the presence of emotions and voice. Video calls enable real-time surveillance, and allow for the presence of voice and facial expressions.

The study calls for government institutions to craft policies for a more accessible mode of communication among migrant parents and their children. Furthermore, the study seeks to introduce communication within the family as an important aspect of development communication.


Migration Communication within the family Children of migrants Information and communication technology (ICTs) Media Media ecology Social change 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paoloregel Samonte
    • 1
  1. 1.United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS)TokyoJapan

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