The importance of learning more about Globally Mobile Children?

Our Worlds become One

Globalisation is growing – this has a significant impact on modern society and the lifestyle of families (McLachlan, 2005) and in particular children (Tanu, 2008). While being on the move was somewhat an exception to the norm decades ago, in today’s internationalised world it has become an increasingly common phenomenon to observe families on the move together with their children (Bushong, 2013; Morales, 2015).

Highly mobile parents – highly mobile children

The high mobility of parents due to their careers in private businesses, employment in federal or military organisations, or as missionaries and development aid workers has a crucial impact on the life of the children moving around with them (McLachlan, 2005). Children of such families are experiencing different cultures and languages meanwhile living apart from extended family and a permanent home. Bushong (2013) emphasises that a childhood involving many cultural experiences will become the norm, even if a child does not necessarily move around but due to the ongoing globalisation and internationalisation of hometowns and birthplaces and an increasing amalgamation of cultures (Bandura, 2002).  


Although no reliable statistics exist regarding the actual number of globally mobile children, the increase in the number of International Schools and students attending those schools predict the trend (BIS Magazine, 2018). According to exact figures in the March 2018 edition of the British International Schools magazine, the number of students attending international schools as researched by ISC Research has increased five times from 970,000 students in 2000 to 4.96 million in 2017 and will double again until the year 2020 (BIS Magazine, 2018).

And therefore I think…

With these numbers in mind and in such an increasingly globalised world model, it will become ever more critical to understand the effect on the children of mobile parents but also on families living in a multicultural context.

References & Further Readings

  • Bandura, A. (2002). Social cognitive theory in cultural context. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 51(2), 269-290.
  • British International Schools (2018). Growing Trends. BIS Magazine.
  • Bushong, L.J. (2013). Belonging Everywhere & Nowhere: Insights into Counseling the Globally Mobile. Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A.: Mango Tree Intercultural Services.
  • McLachlan, D.A. (2005). The impact of globalization on internationally mobile families: A Grounded Theory analysis. The Journal of Theory Construction & Testing, 9(1).
  • Morales, A. (2015). Factors affecting Third Culture Kids’ (TCKs) Transition. Journal of International Education Research, 11(1), 51-55.
  • Tanu, D. (2008). Global nomads: towards a study of “Asian” Third Culture Kids. Paper presented at the 17th Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association in Melbourne, Australia.

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