The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Today’s lifestyles often mean that families are separated by hundreds of miles, if not thousands of miles. Grandparents and grandchildren may live in different parts of the country or even different parts of the world. The U.S. Department of State estimates 6.3 million Americans live abroad, and more than 65 million travel overseas each year. Indeed, many people travel frequently for business or pleasure, resulting in them being separated for days, weeks, or even months at a time from family members. Yet today’s technology allows distant parents and grandparents to read their children or grandchildren bedtime stories, to draw with them, and to be with them—virtually.
For instance, I spend winters about 1,200 miles from my grandchildren, and yet I video conference with them frequently. A few weeks ago, I did the same while I was in Singapore, about 10,000 miles from the grandchildren. Doing so is easy and free. Well, you do have to have an Internet connection and some hardware that you probably already own. I guess that it is not free technically but is available “at no extra charge,” using equipment that most of us already possess. Add in a bit of free software and you, too, can be (virtually) with your loved ones daily.
The following is a list of applications that will allow you talk with, and even see, anyone else in the world who has a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Many of these services are hardware agnostic. That is, Windows and Macintosh computers and Android tablets and phones and Apple iPhones and iPads may all communicate with each other with no issues at all.
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