If you’ve lived much of your life without a computer, it can be a little intimidating to think about diving in and making it a part of your daily life. And if you’re one of those who has been resistant to embracing technology, you may want to think again. Such devices and applications as smart phones, tablets, e-mail, texting, Facebook and Skype are bringing families together, offering an easy avenue to communicate when you’re loved ones are far away and or when they are as close as the next room.
Gone are the days of sending pictures in the mail to great aunt Martha. With the click of a button, vibrant photographs can be sent along in an e-mail without the hassle and expense of developing film. Albums full of snapshots can be uploaded in minutes to be viewed by all of your family and friends via Facebook, which allows pictures and videos to be uploaded and shared with family and friends.
Rhonda Wilson of Portage started Skyping with her sister, who lives 1,100 miles away in Louisiana several years ago. She now uses Skype to stay connected to her daughter, Stephanie, who recently moved 2,200 miles away with her husband and four children to Oregon. “It’s been a blessing to see their daily lives on Skype,” she said. “The grandkids tell me about their school day and I have even watched Stephanie bake in the kitchen. It’s just like being in the same room with her.”
Skype is a software application that allows voice and video communication over the Internet. It was created in Estonia and released in 2003 and has grown to now have over 31 billions users, according to STATISTICBRAIN.COM.
Wilson also noted that her mother, age 79, also uses Skype and Facebook to stay connected to family. “You are never too old to learn,” she said.
Although they live just a mile apart, Wilson said she uses Skype and Facebook to communicate with her mother on a daily basis. Because her mother is 75% deaf, she isn’t able to hear over the phone. “We chat daily on Facebook and Skype. She can read lips and hear mostly what we say on Skype when the volume is as high as it goes.”
Karen Shomer of Lansing said that Facebook and texting are part of everyday life and help keep her connected with family and friends. “I have a grandson who is going into the service and a son in college and we check back and forth with Facebook,” she said. “I think Facebook is the best thing in the world. If I want to say informed, I just look at their page and I know what’s going on.”
Shomer said that Facebook is her go-to source when she just wants to catch up on what is going on in everyone’s lives, but doesn’t have the time to spend hours on the phone. She uses it to keep in touch with not just her kids and grandkids, but a sister-in-law in Iowa, a sister in Wisconsin and a brother in Peoria. Even her sister-in-law that lives in town keeps in touch though Facebook.
“It’s not like it used to be where you got married and stayed in town and everyone knew everyone. People are more spread out now,” she said. “And now you can keep in touch with old classmates and people you lost touch with.”
In her job as a tourism clerk, she said that when she comes across elderly individuals who are traveling without a cell phone, she urges them to get one for use in an emergency. “One man told me he didn’t need one,” she said, “But when I told him that if something happened to him on the road, his wife would have to walk to find help, he said he never thought about that and reconsidered getting one.”
Wilson said that electronic connections have been helpful to her mom since she was widowed. “Facebook has also been great therapy for my mom since losing my dad. She has connected with long time friends family and isn’t as lonely,” she said. “I have nothing but great things to say about the way we communicate through this wonderful technology. It’s the next best thing to being there.”