What the Tech? Back to School Gadgets for Parents

When parents of today’s college students were in school themselves, they stayed connected with family through phone calls on a landline and maybe some letters on actual paper sent through the actual post office. Remember that?

Parents today can keep in touch with their college-bound students through email and FaceTime video calls. A few other tech gadgets might come in handy too. These are gadgets parents can buy for themselves to stay in touch and make sure they’re safe.

Getting a phone call from your college student far away from saying their car’s check engine light just came on is a little stressful for parents and the student. Rather than sending them to an auto repair shop or dealership, parents can help diagnose the problem from wherever they are.

An OBD engine scanner can show mom and dad what’s causing the check engine light to come on. The OBDLink MX scanner plugs into the OBD port and uses Bluetooth and an accompanying app to scan and diagnose the problem.

It’s small enough to stay plugged in and doesn’t use any battery when the car is turned off so it won’t run down the car battery. The scanner will show on the screen any problem and can even turn off the annoying check engine light. The OBDLink scanner and app can upload the data to Dropbox so the student can share the information with mom and dad.

You don’t want your college-aged child to get stuck somewhere with a dead battery. You can toss a set of jumper cables in their car trunk but a portable jump starter will prevent them from needing someone else’s car to get a start.

These jump starters are about the size of a smartphone so they’ll easily fit in the glovebox. They do need recharging every few months. You simply need to connect the standard type clamps onto the battery red/red, black/black, turn on the charger and start the car. They’ll start most any standard size car but if your student has a large truck you might want to check the power before you choose which one to buy.

The jump starters also have a USB port so they’ll quickly charge a dead smartphone battery. The JumpSmart jump starter is in a flashlight shape and does indeed have a powerful flashlight.  They’re great for a little peace of mind knowing your child is out in the world with a dead battery.

Speaking of chargers, a portable smartphone charger will make the student and parent happy. No parent wants to hear “my phone was dead” when they’re trying to reach someone. There are many to choose from so search for a Qi charger for fast speeds.

For some parents, this is an emotional time. Seeing their student leave home without seeing them for days or weeks, photos are going to mean an awful lot to the rest of the family. A digital picture frame allows the student to send mom and dad photos of their first semester straight from their phone.

The Nixplay digital frame is a stunner that looks like it belongs on a shelf (unlike some digital frames I’ve seen). The Nixplay frames allow the student to send photos to the frame instantly. They can even set it up to send the photo as soon as they take it
automatically.

 

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