Skype is an easy way to connect

In many ways, as kids become adults, the difference between parents and their middle-aged children is much less pronounced.

Both generations can drive, own homes (or at least mortgages), vote and enjoy a glass of wine together. But a noticeable difference arises with technology.

“Not you, too,” I heard my mother say at Easter as I was texting away on my Blackberry. “All of you are preoccupied with your phones,” she remarked, referring to her children and her grandchildren. “Incredible,” chimed in dad, noting he could not understand what was going on with all of us.

So when Father’s Day arrived this year, I was not surprised he had no idea what I meant when I said I wanted to set him up on Skype as part of our celebration of this occasion.

If you have not heard of Skype either, I hope you keep reading. Not only is the technology free, it is easy to use and removes the miles between you and your loved ones.

You see, Skype is a software program that allows you to have video calls with other people who use Skype, free of charge. Those who are camera shy will be happy to know Skype can also be used to make free long-distance phone calls without video.

Most new computers have a built-in camera, called a webcam. If yours does not, you can buy a separate webcam for about $25 at a store such as Staples and hook it up to your computer. I installed one for the first time, on my father’s computer, in minutes.

At this point he began to see – literally – why I was so excited about getting him set up on this program.

“Hey, you’re on the computer screen,” he remarked. His curiosity and interest were ignited. I could hear new energy in his voice.

Perhaps it is my nursing background that makes me so aware of the effort my father has to put into day-to-day activities that used to be effortless.  I also notice that when he is with his children and grandchildren he is so full of happiness he forgets his frustration with everyday struggles.

This is why I wanted to introduce him to Skype.

After installing the webcam, I downloaded the free software from www.skype.com and set up a user name for him. Unfortunately those in my family who are on Skype were out at the time. We would have to wait to make his first video call.

I returned home after our visit. The next day, as I was working away, my computer screen suddenly showed that someone on Skype was calling me. It was dad. I selected the video call option and, lo and behold, there he was, laughing and talking on my screen in front of me.

It has been over a year since he has come to my home in the “way-upper” Beach. My stairs are too steep for him to manage. Now it felt like he was here again.

“Happy Father’s Day,” I thought to myself, treasuring the moment.

For information about Skype, visit www.skype.com

Christina Marshall, APR, is a strategic communications consultant specializing in health and lifestyle markets, who lives in the Beach. She can be reached at info@vivantcommunications.ca or at www.vivantcommunictions/wp


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