If you feel like you’re sitting on the sidelines while the communications technology parade marches by, listen up. One of the most popular video/voice calling technologies – Skype – may be all it takes to get you in on the fun. It’s popular here at Bethany Village where the first resident used Skype two years ago to video conference with her family reunion that was in the Rocky Mountains. To get started, you’ll need:
• Access to a desktop, laptop or tablet-style (like an iPad2) computer
• A high-speed internet connection via your cable service or telephone provider or a wi-fi connection, which is offered in many public places
• A webcam (a video camera that now comes built in to most computers)
• Skype software, which is free and also provides free, unlimited telephone calls to Skype members, so you can talk face-to-face with live video
Some seniors may think this set-up sounds too complicated, but it’s really easy to get started. (Isn’t this what tech-savvy grandchildren are for?) You can also use Skype on a smart phone – Blackberry, iPhone or Android, for example.
Skype has a number of great features, but the one most seniors will enjoy most is video conferencing – that is, making a telephone call directly from your computer to someone else’s computer and establishing a connection that allows you to both talk to and see each other in real time. It’s free to other Skype members and doesn’t matter how long you talk or the distance of the connection, including international calls. Here are just a few of the things seniors can do using Skype:
• Communicate with family and friends in far-away places
• Share in special moments and celebrations with children and grandchildren
• Tell grandchildren a bedtime story
• Join in a meeting – for example, a book or garden club
I use Skype daily to chat with my five grown and college-age children. For example, my son is coaching kids soccer now. I used to coach him, so it’s fun to talk about his team. We are urging my mother, age 82, to get an iPad so she, too, can join in the fun.
One caution: When you set up Skype, you will be asked to create a profile, which will be available to anyone using the service. Remember: Don’t list your home phone number in your profile and take advantage of all the privacy settings Skype offers.
To learn more about Skype, their free services and their premium options that require subscription expense, go to: www.skype.com
Tell us about how you use Skype to communicate with your family.