Prior research presents conflicting results on whether parenting styles and helicopter parenting influence college aged students’ engagement in risky behavior and anxiety. In addition, almost no research has been done to explore what topics make college students anxious, and how anxiety fluctuates by grade level, despite the enormous amount of people in this age cohort experiencing this mental illness. The aim of the current study was to investigate how concerns that may induce anxiety and risky behaviors (i.e. drug use and alcohol consumption) change depending on grade level, and to explore the relationship among parenting styles, risky behavior, and anxiety. A total of 225 participants (98 female) completed the questionnaire that was distributed through a campus wide email. Results showed that students with authoritarian parents experience greater anxiety and engage in more risky behavior than students with authoritative parents, however parenting was not associated with the use of specific substances. Furthermore, I found that helicopter parenting was not associated with risky behavior, but did have a relationship with anxiety, such that students with helicopter parents had greater levels of anxiety. Lastly, results indicated significant differences between grade levels for topics that create anxiety as well as engagement in risky behaviors, such that upperclassmen had engaged in greater risky behavior and had greater anxiety about transitioning to live independently compared to underclassmen students. These results suggest that college students should not always be analyzed as one cohort, and support the need for further research into the relationship among helicopter parenting, anxiety, and risky behavior.
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