13 things to help you stay connected to kids going to college
Stay close, even when they’re far away
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
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.
1. An Echo Show for video chatting and displaying photos
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.
2. A sweet box that lets you send love notes
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.
3. Matching bracelets for you and your child
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.
4. An ancestry kit to help you discover your family history
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.
5. A cell phone plan that won't cost you a fortune
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.
6. A Prime membership to send them supplies and groceries
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!
7. An Apple Watch so you can walkie-talkie them
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.
8. A digital picture frame for them to share photos
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.
9. A gaming console that lets you play Mario Kart together
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.
10. A lamp that lets you send them secret messages
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.
11. This cool countertop display for hands-free video calls
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.
12. A sweet pillow to remind them of your love
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.
13. A fun pen pal kit for snail mail
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.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.