I have found a new thing to love...Skype. I first heard about Skype for internet based phone calls years ago, but never thought much of it. Then they started with video calls and I was not sure it would work for us. However, when I decided to enter this vaccine study which would keep me away from my kids for 12 days, I suddenly realized it had so many more applications in my life. I have been here in isolation since Monday and have used Skype to see my kids several times already. I know it is also commonly used by deployed servicemen (and women) to connect with their families. What a comfort that must bring to both them and their loved ones. My in-laws have been enjoying using it to see the grandkids and the kids love seeing their grandparents as well. They live 3000 miles away from us and the little ones grow so fast, it is nice for them to be able to watch as they grow, even from such a distance. I know of others who have used Skype to keep in touch with children who are traveling or studying abroad. The best part of Skype is it is FREE!!! No more paying for long distance or international calls! There is even a feature to call people on their home phones rather than computer-to-computer. That feature does cost money to use, but it is a reasonable 2.1 cents a minute or $1.09 a month. You can not find long distance, and especially not international rates, that low anywhere.
Now, Skype does have some potential downsides, but I expect that as technology improves, so will this great service. In order to see each other, you will both need a web cam. It is possible though for just one of you to have a web cam, but the one with the web cam will not be able to see who they are talking to. You can also make computer-to-computer calls without a camera through Skype and it works similarly to a chat. Oh, and you can conference others in on your calls as well. Another drawback is that unless you have a high quality web cam and microphone, your images can be distorted and your voice may be broken up. This can also happen if your computer or your internet connection is too slow. However, the way I see it, a grainy picture is better than no picture. Eventually, as money allows, I hope to upgrade all aspects of our computer so that we can share high quality video conversations. It will never beat face-to-face interactions, but it probably the closest we can get from 3000 miles away. I love Skype.