Let's face it, the actual modern version of a family bear little resemblance to the family you, as a parent, grew up with. For starters, your parents probably didn't have to check you into school every morning and check you out of school every afternoon like you do. And, perhaps more distressingly, every little activity for you child engages in most likely didn't run your parents an addition $40 or $50 dollars an hour. But, time being what they are, life today is not the same. Nothing about parenthood today is easy, and I haven't even gotten to the main point of this post, which is how smartphone are affecting you and you relationship with you kids.
Transparency without compromising privacy is key to a two-way relationship of trust and safety, and Common Sense media has a good list of apps for student, parent and teacher interaction here. Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers today are used to and expect a fully digitized communication infrastructure when it comes to interacting with friends, family and teachers, so all parents will have to adapt and adjust to a new reality when it come to mobile messaging and communication with their children. Learn what tools offer encryption and anonymity, and understand what cloaking tricks your kids might be hearing about at school and are willing to try.
One app you won't find on the Common Sense list is Life360, which is useful for parents staying in contact with older kids, and for parents to be able to monitor their movements and stay in touch. A list of apps designed specifically for parent wanting to keep tabs on their children is here.
No matter what approach you decide to take, always remember that technology will always continue to evolve and offer more useful feature to suit your needs.