4 Free apps every Latina mom needs to stalk her kids

For Latinas like me, staying connected to my extended and growing family is vital. Thanks to technology, I feel more connected than ever to my familia, who lives abroad. Also thanks to apps that allow me to track the digital lives of my kids, nieces and nephews I'm able to get more information on what they're up to and what they're saying than from live conversations! Here are the apps that have changed my life:

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WhatsApp: Texting within the U.S. is my mode of communicating with my kids and even my husband while I'm busy at work. But to keep in touch with my familia who lives in different countries, WhatsApp is what I use most often. My sisters, our kids, our husbands and most recently my mom have all downloaded WhatsApp so that we can send instant text messages, photos and even video clips from across the world. It costs less than $2 and anyone who has an iPhone or smartphone can download it. As long as you have a internet data plan for your phone, you can send and receive messages for free. We created a familia, adultos and hermanas group and we're on it every day!

Facebook: I'm personally not the type to be updating my status on a regular basis, but I do enjoy keeping up with other people's updates and photos. More than anything my familia and I use this platform to share photos and entire albums. Although there have been a few times that I have found out about situations my kids are going through from Facebook. My son posted a heart-wrenching account of his first week at the high school and most recently, when he thanked his familia and Cochlear Americas for receiving a second implant so that he could hear better. In fact, through Facebook, I have "met," through photos, my daughter's new friends from college.

Instagram: I use Instagram primarily to keep up with the lives (in pictures and videos) of my kids, young family members and their close friends. Now that my daughter is off to college I don't hear from her as often as when she was living at home. But she's always posting pictures of what she's doing with her friends on Instagram. Last weekend I found out through her Instagram pictures that she was off to a Toga fraternity party! I also keep up with my nephew's life in South Africa by following him. I don't really post many pics or videos since, like Twitter, anyone who is following you can see them.

Twitter is another tool in my arsenal that I use to track the latest "conversations" that my kids are having. My daughter often tweets from social gatherings in the middle of the night so sometimes this is how I know that she's still alive and well! Twitter also allows me to monitor information and opinions that they might be sharing with the world but not me. And beware because some of it can be highly inappropriate so you need to figure out how you handle! I also use twitter to find opinions and chatter around breaking news.

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: advice  instagram  parenting  teenagers