As our society becomes ever more mobile, parents can have a tough time when it comes to staying abreast of their children’s daily lives. While these solutions are pretty ‘Version 1.0? for today’s teens, they can work great for parents. (When did teenagers stop using email?)
- Basecamp (http://www.basecamphq.com/) is an online project-management system. Although designed for businesses, it’s a great way for parents and kids to communicate, share pictures, schedules, and more. If you can keep all of your stuff within one project, you can’t beat the price: free.
- Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/) is the well-known online photo-hosting service. Remember, parents, it doesn’t have to be only pictures of your kids’ activities. Take pictures of your own activities to share them with your kids. Again, you can’t beat the price: free.
- Live Journal (http://www.livejournal.com/) is an online journaling system, and you can set it up so that entries are visible to anyone, just your friends, or only you. Not only can this service give you a place to write down your thoughts (just remember to set those to private!), but you can compose messages to your kids and engage in dialog with them. Once again, it’s free.
- Campfire (http://www.campfirenow.com/) is an online instant-messaging system that works via the Web, so no worries about who has Yahoo!, MS Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, and so on. As long as the total number of chatters is four or fewer, it’s (surprise!) free.
While nothing is better than in-person communications, followed closely by a telephone call, the advantage of these options (except for Campfire) is that you can do them while your kids aren’t available by phone (in school, sleeping, etc.). When your kids get home or wake up, they can check to see what you’ve left for them.
These options are not the only ones out there, and may not even be the best options. Hopefully they will inspire you to find more ways to keep in touch with your kids, even if they just live across town.