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Using technology to connect with your teen

Jessica Watson is a mom to five, four in her arms and one in her heart. She lives in Michigan where her life is as unpredictable as the weather. After the loss of her infant daughter in 2007, Jessica left the corporate world behind, vowe...

connect with your teen

The more gadgets in your teenager's hands, the further they seem to drift from you. These days it is hard to have a conversation in the car or even at the dinner table. Try these tips for connecting with your teen through their favorite route… technology.
Touch base through technology
Woman on webcam with teen

Watching your teen walk through life with their nose in a cellphone rather than a book can make any parent cringe. As technology becomes more and more advanced, the options for our kids to stay fully immersed in the digital world are endless. If you are parenting a teen and trying to stay connected with them as they distance themselves from you a little more each day, technology just might be the way to do it. Of course we have to remind our teens that you can have a face-to-face conversation these days but maybe meeting them in the middle isn't such a bad idea.

Here are a few positives to think about the next time you pick up that cellphone:

Keeping up with their lives

Tell us: How early should you introduce technology and how often should you let your kids use it? When you travel with kids should you take technology with you?

For most parents, having a teenager means learning to let go, especially when it comes time to send them off to college. Almost every mom or dad has received the dreaded eye-roll when asking where their teen is headed and when they will be home. Linda Wolff of Carpool Goddess has used technology to her advantage. "Cellphones and texting make me feel like my kids are never that far, which is good now that they're both in college across the country. It also gave me peace of mind to have my kids text me whenever they arrived at or changed their destination when they were new drivers."

Staying in the loop

We've all tried to meet our teens on their level. We may have somewhat failed at speaking in teen lingo or plopped down in the middle of a group of their friends only to have them look at us like we came from another planet. Sometimes connecting with them in a way that they feel is socially acceptable is the perfect way to stay on top of their lives. Stefanie Mullen of Ooph has found some creative ways to stay connected. "As my son is preparing to leave for college next year I am unbelievably grateful for quick texts and Google Hangouts. It is what I cling to as I face down the reality of releasing him out into the giant world all alone."

Learning about their life

Tech savvy schools: Most schools are learning how to keep up with the technology craze as well. Here are the most creative uses of technology in schools.

Since teens seem to find it easier to share the drama of their daily lives on the internet rather than at the dinner table, parents might as well embrace it. "Facebook gives me the opportunity to peek into his life without resorting to searching his room or snapping the lock off his diary. Not that I would do that — heh, heh, heh. But it is a way for me to hear about little things he probably wouldn't mention at dinner and occasionally toss in a joke about him being grounded. He never mentions it, but I love the smirk I get the next time I see him face to face." shares Robyn Welling of Hollow Tree Ventures.

No matter how you embrace technology, whether you are dragging your heels or trying to stay up to date on the latest gadget, making the effort to connect with your teen in this part of their life is well worth it. Rebecca Gallagher of Frugalista Blog sums up the benefits of the changing world of technology so well, "I have a 12 year old, I love that she has a phone and Facebook. I know what's going on in her life more than, I think, what my parents knew, or didn't know, about me!"

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