Plan For College

Monday, August 25, 2014

8 Ways to Keep in Touch with College Kids in the Digital Age

You and your semi-adult children may be in different ballparks when it comes to communication - both philosophically and technologically. While it's not our place to comment on your differing philosophies of communication, we can suggest ways to keep in touch with your college kids in the digital age. It's all about getting on their playing field. Follow these eight steps to effectively keep in touch with your kids while they're on campus and you're at home:

1. Learn how to email - well, you've already mastered that
You know how to email by now, right? Right?

2. Learn how to text
Kids love to text and nearly all text messages are read in the first few minutes. With busy schedules, texting can make sense as a way of checking in, seeing what's new, and staying in touch. If you don't know how to text, I recommend asking your children for help this summer before they head off/back to school.

3. Learn how to video chat on your phone
Do you and your children have iPhones or Androids? Or both? You can video chat through the iPhone with FaceTime. And apparently, you can even video chat from an iPhone to an Android. These video chat apps allow you to add the visual element to your phone calls.

4. Learn how to Skype
Skype is a free video, voice, and text messaging service that allows you to communicate over the internet. As an alternative, you can now use a Google Plus Hangout to video chat with multiple people (got a few kids in college or out of the house?). These free tools allow you to see your kids, chat about life, meet some of their friends, and even receive mini-tours around their dorm rooms or apartments.

5. Rethink the 10 PM cutoff rule
Do you have a rule for how late phone calls can come in? Is it 9 PM, 10 PM or even later? Well I can predict with confidence that your college kids are going to stay up much later than that. So if you do, too, and wouldn't mind talking later that 9 or 10 PM, this could be a good window to chat.

6. Consider Facebook
You'll hear people recommend that you should be friends with your children on Facebook and others will say to stay away from the friend request. Depending on the way your raised your children and your type of relationship, make your own decision about Facebook. I've seen it work both ways, but I've also seen it not work when parents are friends with their children.

The benefits would be that you could see what your kids are up to through pictures, videos, and statuses. The drawback? You may not want to see that.

7. Know their schedules
Have a copy of the student's class schedule handy. One surefire way to annoy your children is by calling during class while your son or daughter forgot to switch off the ringer. That's embarrassing and their fault, but you'll catch the blame. If you know their schedules, a quick call between classes could work well while they are walking the campus.

8. Set up a weekly phone call
This policy may work well for a lot of parents. A Sunday night call is pretty typical for parents and their college students. It assures that you are keeping in touch, while remaining non-invasive.

As for the visits, college breaks, events, and dinners: you've got that down. Those are the truly genuine and old-fashioned ways of keeping in touch, so we're going to assume that you've got it from here.


What has worked for you? Comment below. 

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