My husband and I had our first Skype call with our granddaughters yesterday. I was as excited as Alexander Graham Bell when he asked Mr. Watson to “come here” during their historical phone call.
Skype is a software program that allows you to use your computer to make free voice and video calls over the internet. It’s easy to understand and only takes a few minutes to download. Then you can call other Skype users anywhere in the world for free.
Several years ago my neighbors told me they use Skype to talk to their family in India all the time. I put off looking into it. Recently, we decided to gave it a try and downloaded the software. Then we waited for our daughter and son-in-law to get a camera for their computer. Yesterday afternoon we all sat down at our computers and tested the system. And there we were sitting in front of our computer, laughing and cheering as our granddaughters’ faces appeared on our screen.
At first all the girls wanted to do was make funny faces at their camera and see how they looked in the little view box at the bottom of the screen. Then the three-year old started singing songs and the seven-year old asked me to tell them a story. We stayed on for almost an hour while their parents prepared dinner. The older one went over to her desk and began working on something. Five minutes later she held up a drawing she’d just done. It was so fun to be “virtually in the moment” with them!
This amazing technology adds a whole new dimension to connecting with our grandchildren and expands the possibilities for long-distance grandparenting. Those of us who can’t see our grandchildren in person as often as we’d like would enjoy using this option of seeing our grandchildren on screen instead.
One of our GaGa Sisterhood members was way ahead of the curve in onscreen grandparenting. Cheri and her husband, David, made the cover of the Palo Alto Weekly in January 2008, reading Good Night Moon to their one-year old grandson in Philadelphia. They were described as “part of a new generation of grandparents—technologically plugged in, highly educated and interested in doing what they can to break down the geographical and generational divides between them and their grandchildren.”
Cheri teaches young children and has a large bag of tricks for entertaining and staying connected with her grandsons. She snail mails them “birthdays in a box” and connects virtually with them through weekly iChats.
I’m excited to use this new technology and wonder what took me so long to try it.