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Beyond the Phone: Keeping in Touch via Facebook, Skype and Web Cams

Five ways to stay connected with your now-grown kids


Beyond the Phone: Keeping in Touch via Facebook, Skype and Web Cams
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Once upon a time, the only way friends and families kept in touch was by letter or telephone - and telephones were attached to the wall. Fortunately, times change. These days parents can stay in contact with their college kid or now-grown child so many different ways, including, yes, Facebook. Here's a quick rundown on four ways to stay close, even when junior's off at college or studying abroad.

  • Cell Phones & Texts: It's a rare parent who's not already connected to his kid via cell phone, but texting adds another dimension. You can say "I love you" any time of day, remind junior to visit the financial aid office or ask him a quick question - "Um, what's my password again?" - in a matter of seconds. And you'll get a response faster than with traditional phoning. Use the iPhone Facetime option to see that sweet face too. This mode of communication gets pricey if your child is studying abroad, though. Find tips for that below.

  • Facebook: The fastest growing demographic on Facebook these days is parents. They're using the social networking site to communicate with colleagues, look up old friends and yes, stay in touch with their teens and college kids too. They can share photos, send instant messages and post status reports that announce where they are and what they're doing. But parents' move into the Facebook universe has inspired angst in some quarters. Avoid mortifying your kids - or worse, getting "unfriended" by them - by checking out these Facebook parental etiquette tips.

  • Skype: A favorite with families whose students are studying overseas, Skype turns your computer into a free phone service. You download Skype, your child downloads it too, then you can dial up and talk - for free - over your computer's headset or speakers, whether your kid is here or on the other side of the world.

  • Blogs: Blogs are particularly popular with students traveling abroad. They can post photos and descriptions of places they visit, and share them with friends and extended family. In turn, family can post comments back. Among the most popular and easiest to use: TravelBlog.org and TravelPod.com.
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