It’s tough to talk with teenagers. The recurring answers of “huh,” “nothing,” and “I don’t know” when you ask them how their day was gets old really fast. However, we all know that communication is key when raising teens. So how can we actually get our kids to talk? Well, since they grew up in a world of technology, why not use those same tools to communicate with them? Maybe these four parent-approved apps to communicate with your teen will help. In addition to my own experience, I also polled some other parents of tweens and teens to see what works best in their families.
Apps to Communicate with Your Teen — Text Messaging aka Texting
Good old text messages. You can send quick, abbreviated messages and even add some emotional weight with an emoji or two (or three, or four). Kids love how instant texting is and that they aren’t expected to have a long, drawn out conversation explaining where they are or who they are with. They can even send an image or audio recording.
We text all of the time in our family. Believe it or not, my daughter and I once used text messages as I shopped for her. I tried on clothes, took a photo, and she decided if she liked it or not. She hates shopping (even more than I do) so this was easier than dragging her to the store. We’re only one size apart on shirts so I know if it’s a little tight on me, it will fit her perfectly.
Text messaging seems to be the most convenient and effective method of keeping in touch with tweens, teens, and beyond. This is what other parents had to say:
My kids won’t answer me unless I text them and now my granddaughter is really into Facetiming with me for everything it’s adorable. — Gayle, Disney Gals
My girls are tweens and we text. I haven’t let them join the social media world of FB yet… As far as texting, we’ve got endless emojis coming out of our fingers. 😉 — Stephanie, A Family Lives Here
My daughter and I use iMessage and FaceTime when I travel. She is 10. My teen and I we text. All the time. — Toni, A Daily Dose of Toni
All texting and iMessage, all the time. — Rebecca, Kidzvuz
Apps to Communicate with Your Teen — Facebook Messenger
My daughter has a Facebook account but never uses it. The only feature she uses is the Facebook Messenger app. We have had entire conversation where all her answers were made up of “stickers.” They say a picture is a thousand words and my daughter certainly knows how to use them well. It’s crazy how she finds just the right stickers to express and entire comment. Plus, I love how she uses Messenger to tell me “good night” when I’m away on business trips!
Facebook Messenger came up as a close second in my online poll 🙂
My daughter and I use Facebook messenger and texting to chat. — Kristy, Adventures of a Couponista
My teens and I text often. Even when they’re in their room and I need them to come down stairs. I love it now that my oldest is living so far away. Because we established a habit of texting each other for little things at home, she still texts me all the time from college (more often than she would call me). My 2 oldest were late FB adopters but there have been times when phones weren’t working but I could get online and FB messenger saved the day! — Laura, Food.Fun.Family
My son and I use messenger and Instagram. — Claudia, Trendy Latina
Apps to Communicate with Your Teen — Snapchat
Some might wonder why I would include Snapchat in “parent-approved” roundup. Since the app automatically deletes photos and videos after being viewed, it has been used to secretly share inappropriate and/or harmful messages. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean the app itself is evil.
Snapchat can be a fun way of exchanging stories during day without the “on trial” feeling that a straight-forward conversation might incur. But, as with any technology, parents need to first familiarize themselves with it, identify the dangers, and set clear guidelines before allowing their children to use it. I think this article sums it up nicely. Though Frans and I don’t allow our daughter to use Snapchat, other parents use it regularly to communicate with their teens.
My daughter and I Snapchat often throughout the day. It’s cool because I feel like I really get a taste of what a day in college for her is like. I wake up to tons of Snapchats from her studying into the wee hours of the morning. — Jindy, Flowers Croon
I helped my cousin who has girls in high school how to use Snapchat. All of her girls use that and Facebook sometimes… My cousin was using it to check in on her kids. But mostly they private message via Snapchat each other. — Chris, 24k Media
Apps to Communicate with Your Teen — WhatsApp
If you have family overseas, then you know the popularity of WhatsApp. It’s similar to text messages but is free if you have limited texting on your cellular plan. It works internationally and all you need is a mobile phone number.
Before we had international texting we uses WhatsApp a lot when I traveled. — Tammy, Three Different Directions
A few more suggested apps were shared with me.
I use Google Hangout because their school is run on Chromebooks so they are online all day long…It’s got its good sides and its bad sides but if I need to tell them something I can just message them through hangout. 🙂 — Shelby, OC Mom Blog
We use Slack! — Jacqueline, Nerd Family
Of course, nothing beats talking to each other in person. But, as our kids get older, doing that can be challenging at times. Fortunately, apps like these can help us communicate with our teens when and how they feel comfortable. And that’s definitely a good thing.