December 8, 2021

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Things to help you stay connected to kids in college

If your child is heading off to college for the first time, you’re undoubtedly going to miss them—after all, it’s probably the first time they’ll be living away from you! Phone calls, texts, and Facetime are all great ways to keep in touch with your college-bound baby, but thanks to modern technology, there are a number of other ways you can stay connected, as well.

From picture frames that let you share photos to long-distance gaming systems, the following are fun ways you can stay in touch with and feel connected to your child who’s leaving for college.

1. An Echo Show for video chatting and displaying photos

Credit: Amazon

This Alexa-powered device makes video chatting easy.

Put one Echo Show on your student’s desk and one on your kitchen counter, and just like that, you’ll be able to video chat any time you want! These handy Alexa-powered devices allow you to make hands-free calls thanks to a 2 MP camera, but that’s not all they’re good for. Your child can use their Echo Show to watch TV, play music, listen to podcasts, and more, and you’ll be able to turn the display into a digital picture frame for all your favorite family photos.

Get the Echo Show 5 from Amazon for $84.99

2. A sweet box that lets you send love notes

You can send your child little notes via this cute box.

Credit: Lovebox

You can send your child little notes via this cute box.

You can send your college student discrete notes with the help of Lovebox. This adorable gadget has a small, unassuming design, and it couples with a mobile app that lets you write notes, send photos, and create drawings. When you send a message to the box, the heart on the front will spin, letting your child know they have a sweet sentiment waiting for them. Plus, the brand offers a variety of heart designs, allowing them to swap in one that matches their dorm decor.

Get the Lovebox from Amazon for $119.99

3. Matching bracelets for you and your child

One bracelet for each of you!

Credit: MANVEN

One bracelet for each of you!

Every time you look down at your wrist and see this sentimental bracelet, you’ll think of your child—and they’ll do the same! The matching bracelets are designed for a mother and daughter, and they come on a card that reads, “Side by side or miles apart… We’ll always be connected by our hearts.” One of the bracelets is a heart, while the other is a circle with a heart cutout inside. It’s a simple way to keep each other close, no matter how far apart you are.

Get the MANVEN Mother Daughter Bracelets from Amazon for $12.99

4. An ancestry kit to help you discover your family history

Discover more about your family together.

Credit: AncestryDNA

Discover more about your family together.

If you’re looking for a way to bond with your child—even while they’re away at college—an AncestryDNA Genetic Test will give you something to talk about and explore together. All you have to do is send in a saliva sample, and in six to eight weeks, you’ll receive your results, which includes an ethnicity estimate and a breakdown of where your ancestors might have lived. You and your child can compare your individual results, and with an Ancestry World Explorer Membership, you can also build a family tree for insights into your family’s genealogy and origin.

Get AncestryDNA: Genetic Ethnicity Test for $99

5. A cell phone plan that won’t cost you a fortune

Hands holding phones with smiley faces on blue background

Credit: Visible

Ditch your high-cost carrier and join Visible to stay connected for less.

Nothing can start a feud faster in the family group chat than that dreaded text from your phone carrier that you’ve “used all your data for the month.” Luckily, it is possible to stay connected for less. Visible, a Verizon-owned network, offers super affordable, unlimited plans starting at $40 a month, and includes unlimited data, messages and minutes with no annual contracts or hidden fees. And since the service uses Verizon’s network, you won’t have to worry about spotty reception, either. So even if you’re sending your student across the country, they’ll have no excuse not to answer your every phone call and text message since it’s all unlimited.

Sign up for Visible from $40 per month

6. A Prime membership to send them supplies and groceries

Prime offers one- and two-day shipping on lots of essential college supplies.

Credit: Amazon

Prime offers one- and two-day shipping on lots of essential college supplies.

Within a few days of dropping your student off at college, they’re likely going to be texting you that they forgot to pack paper towels, pencils, flip flops for the dorm shower, and so on. No matter what they need, you can come to the rescue with the help of Amazon Prime, which offers free one- or two-day shipping on millions of items. You can even use your membership to have groceries delivered to them from Whole Foods!

Sign up for an Amazon Prime Membership for $12.99/month

7. An Apple Watch so you can walkie-talkie them

The new Apple Watch SE lets you walkie-talkie with other watch users.

Credit: Reviewed.com/Simon Hill

The new Apple Watch SE lets you walkie-talkie with other watch users.

There’s so much to love about the Apple Watch SE—it offers fitness tracking, ample storage, and a crisp display, just to name a few—but you know what’s really cool? Its Walkie-Talkie feature, which lets any two Apple Water users talk to each other via their wrists. Once you add each other as friends, you can start a conversation and talk instantly like you would via real walkie-talkies—ideal for quick check-ins with your college student between classes or on your lunch break.

Get the Apple Watch SE from Amazon for $329.99

8. A digital picture frame for them to share photos

Your student can send pictures right from their phone to this frame.

Credit: Nixplay

Your student can send pictures right from their phone to this frame.

Sure, your child will probably send you the occasional photo from school, but you can make it even more fun for them to share memories with the Nixplay Smart Picture Frame. This cool digital frame allows your student to send photos and even videos directly to its display using the associated app or email, and you’ll be surprised when new images pop up on your screen, showing you exactly what your children are up to at college.

Get the Nixplay Smart Digital Picture Frame from Amazon for $179.99

9. A gaming console that lets you play Mario Kart together

You can play multiplayer games online with the Nintendo Switch.

Credit: Nintendo

You can play multiplayer games online with the Nintendo Switch.

If you and your children regularly play video games together, you definitely need to get yourself a Nintendo Switch. Not only is this super-popular gaming console perfect for college students thanks to its compact, go-anywhere design, but it also allows you to play games together, even when you’re far apart. There are lots of amazing multi-player games for Nintendo Switch, including cult classics like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and before you know it, family game night will be a regular occurrence.

Get the Nintendo Switch from Amazon for $299

10. A lamp that lets you send them secret messages

Touch your lamp, and theirs will light up.

Credit: Urban Outfitters

Touch your lamp, and theirs will light up.

No one ever has to know that this cute lamp on your child’s desk is anything other than a decorative accent. However, they’ll know that it’s a discrete way to communicate their love to you, despite the distance. These friendship lamps come in a set of two, and when one person taps their lamp, the other one lights up. It’s the perfect way to let your child know you’re thinking about them, even when you don’t necessarily have time for a phone call.

Get the Brookstone Friendship Lamp from Urban Outfitters for $89.95

11. This cool countertop display for hands-free video calls

The Portal Mini lets you video chat through Facebook or WhatsApp.

Credit: Facebook

The Portal Mini lets you video chat through Facebook or WhatsApp.

Similar to the Echo Show, the Portal Mini is a countertop display that’s designed for hands-free video calling. However, this gadget can accept calls via Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and you can even facilitate group calls on it if you want to bring in other relatives. The Portal Mini has a smart camera that pans, zooms, and widens automatically to keep you in the frame, even if you’re moving around, and when you’re not on a call, it can display photos from Facebook, Instagram, and your phone’s camera roll, as well as give you birthday reminders and more.

Get the Portal Mini from Amazon for $82.99

12. A sweet pillow to remind them of your love

Let your child know you're always rooting for their success.

Credit: GiftAPillow / Etsy

Let your child know you’re always rooting for their success.

There’s no denying that college—and even just being away from home—is stressful at times, and even if you can’t physically be there, you can offer support to your child with this adorable pillow. It’s designed to resemble a postcard, complete with a stamp in the corner, and the pretty canvas fabric has a supportive message printed on it. You can have it customized with your child’s name, as well as who it’s from, and your child is sure to appreciate the sentiment when they’re feeling a little lonely.

Get the GiftAPillow Dorm Room Pillow from Etsy for $36

13. A fun pen pal kit for snail mail

This stationary kit is perfect for kids who want to write to older siblings.

Credit: MeAndMary / Esty

This stationary kit is perfect for kids who want to write to older siblings.

If you have little kids at home who want to keep in touch with a college-bound sibling, this cute pen pal kit makes it fun to write snail mail. It comes with a variety of writing prompts, as well as eight blank notes, matching envelopes, and stickers. The prompts feature engaging activities like games of Tic-Tac-Toe and “This or That,” and your college student is sure to appreciate receiving physical mail once in a while.

Get the MeandMary Family Pen Pal Kit from Etsy for $20

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.