I got an email from one of my brothers this week about how he and his family got on Skype to have a video chat with my mother, who is spending the holidays with her sisters in Denmark. Since she’s been gone, I’ve emailed, phoned, but Skyped? Never even crossed my mind.
You’re probably familiar with Skype, which Wikipedia describes as:
the telecommunications application software that specializes in providing video chat and voice calls from computers, tablets and mobile devices via the Internet to other devices or telephones/smartphones.
All this got me to thinking about why I’m hesitant to use Skype, so I went online and discovered I already had an account. Imagine that! Then I went out on a limb and Skyped my brother, Mark, our family’s expert on video chatting. Once I figured out how to get my video portion up, the entire call started to evolve and I felt really comfortable.
When you can’t be with your loved ones in person, technology makes it so much easier for us to stay close. I text, email and talk on the phone with my family on a fairly regular basis, but I was surprised how using this video element made my connection so much richer.
“It’s like you’re sitting down together,” explains my brother, Mark, “and it feels like you’re right there with them. The border goes away, and you can see and talk to people anywhere.”
Mark and his family lived overseas for years, so Skyping has been a way of life for them. He notes that everywhere he travels, “they’re using Skype or another form of video chat. For some reason, my American friends are the ones who are more reluctant to use it.”
What is it about video chatting that brings family together? Mark points out, “when we talked with mom this week, she started smiling and laughing as our kids engaged with her. Our daughter even played the flute and we could see mom’s reaction right away. And there’s this great feature where you can share photos and talk about them together.”
Hmm, I wonder, why am I not using video chat more often? Maybe it’s because I’m concerned about how I’m dressed or where I am when I get a Skype call. My brother just laughs, “it’s not like you’d take a call in the bathroom, Lois, and because I’m a guy, I’m not too worried about what I’m wearing, as long as I am dressed.”
Connecting families, who live in different cities or different countries, is a really important part of Skype. There’s something about watching someone’s immediate response, seeing where they live and what’s around them, that gives your communication something very meaningful.
In the December issue of the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle, Shirley Smiley, a.k.a.Nana, writes about how to close the gap on the miles between grandparents and grandchildren. She embraces digital venues, including Skype. “It allows an opportunity to read a story, solve a puzzle or to see how big our toddler has grown. Voice memos remind grandchildren we are thinking of them and we can sneak in a verbal I love you in real time.”
The Fuse Joplin published an article this year about how Skyping has changed the way we communicate:
It is one of the most common applications for people with webcams and laptops, living in different cities, away from their families. It helps them stay connected via video calling facility, which is absolutely free and just requires a working internet connection. No doubt Skype has removed boundaries between countries and bridged the gap between continents.
So, as the holidays approach and there are people in your life with whom you’ve lost contact and haven’t spent physical time with recently, how about checking in with a video chat? Skype is easy enough to set up, and it’s free, but there are other options as well:
Some options are even available on your smartphone, so staying in touch is easier than ever before. Certainly when my brother in the US reached out to my mother, in Denmark, he shattered the 8-hour difference in time and reminded the rest of the family how easy it is to stay in touch. The only issue for my 84-year old mother? Remembering her password.
Lois’ Living Through It blogs are posted on Mondays and Thursdays. Join her Monday mornings around 8:45am on Good Day Colorado.