Don't let your good-byes at the dorm room be "See you at Thanksgiving!" Stay in touch with these clever services.
For easy calling, use Skype (free at skype.com).
This long-standing service is still among the best for free communication. It works on practically any device, whether a Mac, PC, tablet, smartphone or gaming system. International calls, video chats and instant messaging are all free from one user to another if you both have Skype handles. It’s great for one-on-one catch-ups, especially if your kid is studying abroad in another time zone.
Got college kids scattered all over the country? Bring them together with Rounds. The app offers unlimited texting, photo sharing and audio calling, plus free group video chats for up to 12 people at a time. All you need to jump-start your family reunion is a smartphone; a 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi connection; and a Facebook account.
For group binge-watching, use Rabbit (free at rabb.it).
Even if your kid's college is across the country, Rabbit lets you watch the final episode of Orange Is the New Black or a viral cat video together on your laptops. Using a Web-based interface, you can acess your Hulu or Netflix subscriptions, HBO Go, NBC, YouTube and more. You can even invite up to 15 people to Rabbitcast together. Gather the relatives!
Sure, text and e-mail greetings are nice, but they can’t beat a physical card. Your kid doesn't need to know it’s coming from your smartphone! Pick from the hundreds of designs in the JustWink app. Find one to suit your occasion (a birthday, perhaps, or just a thinking of you), type your message, upload a picture, then select where you want it sent. The $3.49 cost covers the card and postage to a U.S. address.