What Did We Do Before Video Chat?

December 16, 2010

vintage skype advertisement

Hello, Friends! As I’ve mentioned one thousand times, we’re trying to make a year abroad happen for our family. Intel AppUp℠ caught word of our prospective adventure and asked what kind of apps (if any) our family will use to make the transition easier.

There are a bunch, but the first one I thought of is video chat. We typically use Skype when we videochat, but there are lots of other options out there (if you’re curious, you can find a Skype phone call recorder on AppUp℠ here).

We are huge videochat people at the Blair house. We use it every single day. I talk with my sister in San Francisco while I work, and when my mother was living in Russia last year, we would chat all the time — I could ask her for advice or recipes as often as if she was stateside.

It is stunning to me what a difference videochat makes in keeping connected. Ralph was 11 years old when we moved from New York. There’s a pretty slim chance that he would have written letters to or consistently called his New York friends. But they videochat all the time. It’s not quite as good as an actual playdate, but it’s pretty darn close. Especially at Ralph’s age (now 13), when legos are no longer the thing, and you really just want to hangout with your buddies. I can say quite confidently that Ralph’s friendships from New York would have died pretty completely over the last year and a half of living in Denver, if Ralph wasn’t a videochat user.

So. Whenever the kids get nervous, thinking about leaving their friends and moving to another country, we reassure them with the promise of videochat. And it works every time. Because they’ve tried it. And they know from experience it keeps relationships with faraway friends and cousins fresh and real.

We’re setting up videochats with their social studies and language classes at the middle school. We’re making sure their friends open chat accounts before we move — so they can test things out and see how easy it is. The kids are actually quite excited about it at this point and I’m happy that we live in the era of the Jetsons.

What about you? Have you ever tried videochat? Doesn’t it seem like the one thing that was predicted when we were little kids that has actually happened?

This content series is brought to you by Intel AppUp℠.  Find free and paid apps for your lifestyle. Get started here.

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 bdaiss December 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I haven’t, but my mom loves it for staying connected to her grandkids back in MKE. (Mine just show up on her doorstep.)

Maybe someday if I upgrade our home computer to one with a webcam…


2 Katherine December 16, 2010 at 4:03 pm

We’re huge skype fans. We’ve used it for about two years now which has allowed me to chat frequently with my best friend in Finland, my brother in London this semester and stateside, all of our family. I just wish that it had existed for my semester abroad. Phone cards were pricey!


3 Kate Reymann December 16, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Every time my son (he’s 2) sees my computer he asks, “Nan and Charlie? Nan and Charlie?,” which is what he calls my parents. We gchat with them every week. We chat with his cousins (ages 4 and 2.5) as well and the boys all just hold up their toys to show to each other. It is so cute. I absolutely love it and one of the main reasons my husband and I will be able to leave Luke with my parents for a week in January is because he knows them through video chatting. It is so amazing.


4 Jaclyn December 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm

My husband travels Mon thru Fri while my daughter and I are at home and I can’t believe how much just seeing his face while we Skype helps us get through the week!


5 terina December 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm

we used skype multiple times a day when my husband was deployed to afghanistan. now that he is home, we use it to call grandparents and cousins. i can talk to my friends that are far away too. it was great that my son could talk to his dad every morning before he left for school. i think about how different my grandpa’s deployment was in 1952 to the front lines of Korea, and how he could only write letters, and very few phone calls, with families not knowing what is going on…..how lucky we are to have it!! (we also use gmail video chat, and have used yahoo, but skype and gmail are the best we’ve used so far.)


6 Claire December 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm

we use skype so my 6 month old can see her grandparents. this way, she recognizes them! otherwise, i fear they’d seem like strangers for the early years of her life.


7 Summer December 16, 2010 at 5:53 pm

I don’t think I would have been nearly so eager to move overseas if it weren’t for video chat. My daughter recognizes her grandparents and loves to watch her cousins talk to her. It’s such a huge blessing. I’m in awe of people who lived far from loved ones before our wonderfully technically savvy era.


8 Rendy Lemke December 16, 2010 at 5:53 pm

We haven’t used it much, but we plan on moving overseas in 17 months, and so am glad about this reminder of video chat that I can discuss with my son who is a tad hesitant to leave his friends behind.


9 Sabrina December 16, 2010 at 6:00 pm

My best friend moved to England a few years ago, and I can truly say skype has kept us together – with everything that’s going on in our lives, plus the time difference (5hrs), it’s THE best way to catch up! Plus we get to see each others’ kids and hubbies too :). Its awesome!


10 Kate The Great December 16, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Gabby: fix the grammar error, darling.

“We’re making sure they’re friends open chat accounts before we move– ”

Love, KTK


11 Rebecca December 16, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I do a video iChat with my Mom in California and my 14 month old son almost every other day. He now walks up to the laptop and bangs on the keys and demands Graaammmmaaa. (In a cute way, of course!) I love it that they get to keep in touch so much even though he is too young to talk on the phone. Plus she gets to be (virtually) around for a lot of little everyday things that she would have missed being so far away. I love it, and we’d all be so sad without it!


12 Lesley December 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm

We’ve been using it recently for virtual visit/babysitting with my mother and child. It’s been great for my 3 1/2 year old to sit at the counter and chat with my mom while I’m standing right in the kitchen with them making dinner. Of course, now my son knows how to “dial” her up on his own, which is scary, but great.


13 Stephanie at Modern Parents Messy Kids December 16, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I agree that video chatting makes me feel like I’m living in the future I imagined as a little kid. I had this surreal moment the other day when my 2 yr old video chatted with my dad for the first time on our iphone 4s.

I kept thinking how amazing it is that to my little boy video chatting will always be completely normal. And that it must really be surreal for my father to be communicating with his grandson this way since they were still using rotary style phones when he was 2.


14 Jennifer Milton December 16, 2010 at 6:54 pm

hi, we’ve moved to new zealand and yes video chatting is the way to go. my son reads books to his grandma, they work on crafts and have been sharing christmas decorations as if we were in the same room. will look forward to hearing more about your international move…I’d offer tidbits of input if needed! blessings, jennifer


15 Courtney December 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Jorday Ferry is your sister?!?!?! Weird! I love her blog, too!


16 Jen lewis December 16, 2010 at 7:23 pm

We love Skype at the Lewis home! It was sk useful when my parents were living in Thailand, we felt so connected because we could actually hear each others’ voices. They were overseas when I graduated college, but they still got to chat with me on the big day and see me in my cap and gown!! I love this multi-media age we live in.


17 Marta December 16, 2010 at 8:07 pm

I could not live with out Skipe! I’m from Colombia, so this is the closest I can be to my family with out being there… I can see my parents every day (and I do!) and Max can see his cousins too. Some how this technology makes my live more happy!


18 Sandy December 16, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Sometimes I’ll turn to a friend or relative and say “Do you realize we live IN THE FUTURE?” I leave for northeastern China to student-teach in a couple months, and have already promised to Skype with the high-school girls I did my internship with. Can’t wait!


19 Kelley December 16, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Looove Skype. I’m away at college, so I video chat my family all the time. The best is with my 15 month old niece, who I’m sure would totally forget me between my visits home, but because of Skype, the readjustment period is always waaay shorter.


20 Heidi December 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm

We love videochat! Our families live 400 miles away so talking to them face-to-face (especially when we have a toddler) sure beats talking on the telephone! It makes those 400 miles feel like a lot less!


21 Liz December 16, 2010 at 9:34 pm

We use facetime on the iPhone almost daily to help my kiddos keep in touch with their grandparents. It is great. They walk them around the house to show off whatever they’ve been doing or working on. It helps them have much more in-depth conversations than they did when it was just on the phone.


22 Elizabeth December 16, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Kate the Great:

I think you should check the spelling and grammar on your own website before you critique Design Mom’s.

“Along The Curbs, Too. But Not Growng Where Cars Reguarly Park.”


23 Natalia December 17, 2010 at 1:06 am

All our family is on the other side of the world, yet we rarely use videochat. My mother still hasn’t figured out how to set it up, and my husband is in a part of the world where we are lucky if he can make a phone call (though we have decent enough email contact), and everyone else it is mainly email.

Call me weird, but I am almost happier with written rather than spoken conversation – I like the time to think and digest, and re-read stuff. My son is six so it is great when he does get a chance to talk to Dad, or grandma, or cousins, but he doesn’t feel he is missing out if a week goes by and he only has letters or emails as communications from them.


24 menucha December 17, 2010 at 1:57 am

Very well put – an honest prediction from our childhood… We live on Skype!! My two year old daughter Skypes with her grandparents and aunt and uncles in Chicago almost every day!!! Skype is seriously a life tool to me – my mom “babysits” my daughter in her room via the laptop on the couch, giving me about 10 minutes to put up dinner, grab a shower, do the dishes etc.
When we had a visit with my parents last week (the first time my kid has seen her bubby since august) she ran right to her for a big hug — they have a serious relationship due to all the skype video-chat time!

I actually have a very cool picture of my daughter blowing kisses to her grandma (via Skype) at her 2 year old birthday party (keep forgetting to send it over to the folks at skype to thanks them!!): http://tinyurl.com/2895vgk


25 Ashley Rae December 17, 2010 at 6:58 am

I love Skype! One of my best friends i met while working moved home to Seattle from DC then moved to Scotland for Grad school… we gchat everyday; and skype atleast a couple times a month. I used to video chat with my best friends from HS when I went off to college in another state. Its been a great way to keep in touch, and not feel isolated.


26 JaneMG December 17, 2010 at 9:27 am

I can’t live without skype now. I am originally from Sydney, Australia and come from a very close family. I have a three year old boy who is my parent’s only grandchild, we skype most days even sometimes just for a minute and it keeps my family and child so connected. When we first visited Sydney when he was 14 months old, they were worried he wouldn’t know them but he stepped right off that plane and into their arms saying “Nanna, Poppy”.

My husband’s family on the east coast skype occasionally but it’s too bad it’s not more.
My family has been able to share in some pretty great moments because we were skyping at the time, my sister caught his first steps which was a great one. We also move about the house and go outside with our computer to demonstrate scootering, biking, skateboarding etc. and he’s already to perform his latest songs and learn more from my sis. They take us outside and we compare the seasons, sometimes both our neighbours and people passing by must wonder what we are doing but we don’t care.

As I said I can’t imagine life without it now and I highly recommend it for those separated from their families and friends. LOVE IT!


27 M December 17, 2010 at 10:46 am

The problem with videochat is that it only works if the person on the other side a) has the technology and b) can figure out how to use the technology. I would love for my mother-in-law to get a better picture of my kids, but she just doesn’t feel comfortable logging into Skype. (Go figure–it’s so easy!) My mom would be the same way if we lived far from her. Digital immigrants and all of that . . .


28 M December 17, 2010 at 10:47 am

And by “picture of my kids” I mean an idea of who they are because she interacts with them on videochats.


29 annie December 17, 2010 at 10:48 am

We use Skype to talk to my parents who are on a mission in Moscow Russia. We love it! Yay for technology!


30 Lisa December 17, 2010 at 11:53 am

My 2 year old daughter and I talk to my mom and sister almost every evening via Skype. They are in NJ and we are in NY, but we have no car and only see them about once a month in person. Nanny and Aya (as my daughter calls them) are part of our everyday life, and without Skype- this wouldn’t be the case. We also use it to talk to friends and relatives much further away and we love it.


31 Kristi December 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm

We don’t live quite oceans apart from out families, but we chat weekly via skype plus webcam with Grandpa in Alaska. Our nineteen month old daughter knows his name, face and beard which is pretty cool.
For Christmas, the other Grandpa is getting his own webcam and a handwritten guide on how to use Skype (I’ll probably use that awesome vintage image as the cover!).
Technology, when elegant and connecting, is a wonderful thing :)


32 Bri December 17, 2010 at 1:53 pm

When I graduated, my husband and I moved from FL to TN. Then we proceeded to have children. Our kids wouldn’t know their grandparents if it wasn’t for video-chatting!!


33 Meghan Beutler December 17, 2010 at 4:13 pm

love skype! it’s how our baby knows our families, even though we lived far away for his frist almost 16 months of life.


34 allison p. December 17, 2010 at 5:29 pm

This is the first time I’ve noticed you mention that your mom lived in Russia last year. My in-laws were just called to serve as missionaries in Russia. They’ll leave at the end of April and will be gone for two years. I’m sure we’ll video chat with them while they are over there!


35 Jes December 17, 2010 at 8:52 pm

ugh – I’m so retarded. I can’t figure stuff like that out. I have no idea how to video chat. Must learn fast…we are having a baby in three months and all after moving to New York from across the country, we have NO family here! Everyone will want to see her ;-)


36 Martini Mom December 19, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Ah, video chat… a true lifesaver. My boyfriend’s two daughters are currently living with their mom in Dallas (we’re in Seattle) while she finishes up her undergrad degree. Of course nothing replaces having his daughters nearby, but their weekly videochats help make a difficult situation just a little better.

P.S. For Christmas, I got him a readeo subscription, which I saw on one of your gift giving guides. It’s PERFECT! Thanks for the tip!


37 Kristy December 20, 2010 at 7:39 am

My husband and I moved from Utah to England a few years back, so video chat seems ideal for staying in touch, but I am no fan. Not sure why, maybe because I’m a bit socially awkward, so video chat stresses me out. My hubby uses Skype all the time, but I’m a bit old fashioned and instead pay a bit extra to get unlimited international calling on my home phone.


38 Jill Malpass December 20, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Skype has become a part of our every day life – literally. My daughter (20 months) and I eat breakfast virtually with my parents every morning. It’s a routine now…my daughter sits in her high chair, requests Nana and Poppy (we actually call them Nana and Poppy in a box when we’re talking over skype), and we all eat our breakfasts together. It’s great! Frequent communication at a time when you’re all sitting down anyway. Good luck!


39 Sila December 20, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Yes! I love Skype. I use it all the time to chat with my boyfriend who lives in Australia.


40 Globe trottin' mama December 20, 2010 at 8:41 pm

as implied by my screenname, i get around. therefore, i need a way to keep up writh friends and family abroad. i typically default to skype, but at various times have used other apps.


41 julia December 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I love video chat. We have several iphone, ipad and mac users in our family so we now use facetime most often (we used to be Skype). We make monthly chat appointments with my grandmother – then she can see how much her great-grand kids are growing (her daughter – my aunt, is there for technical support).
My son (3) will now ask to “do facetime” with certain people. It’s really great because my sister lives in NY but when she’s home visiting she’s never a stranger to my kids – truly she’s one of their favorites.
When my little one started walking, I would put the laptop on the other side of the room and she’d walk towards it. It’s just great.
Downside – my son doesn’t yet get that not every call can be a facetime call – but he also doesn’t understand why the TV isn’t a touch screen :-\

…now, about the hoverboards….?


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