- 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. It's not the best option, though, for international communication.
- 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 our
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 microphone and speakers. Works with video too.
- 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.