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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Skype is another way people can communicate online through video or by regular phone calls. It's reasonably intuitive to use. Although it occasionally has technical glitches, it can be great for families with a member who is often traveling or is living in another location. Keeping in touch with extended family and faraway friends can help kids feel connected to the people in their lives. For safest use, supervise your teens' Skype chats and have your younger kids use your account.
What's it about?
SKYPE is a website that allows users to communicate using video and voice calls. Its basic features are free, but you also can access additional features such as group video calls or SMS, either by paying as you go or subscribing. To begin, download Skype onto your computer; when it's done installing, a log-in screen will appear. You can sign in using a Skype, Facebook, or Microsoft account. To add contacts, click the \"Add Contacts\" button and then type the person's name, Skype handle, or email address into the search box that pops up. Once you've added contacts, click on the name of the person you'd like to call; if there's a green light next to their name, they're already signed in and ready to receive your call. They'll answer, and you should be able to hear them. Turn on your webcam, if you have one, and you'll be able to see the person you're connected to. During your video call, you also can share screens or send files to the person you're talking to.
Is it any good?
Skype is an incredible idea, and when it works, it's a world-changing free resource that's opened up communication for millions of people. But it can sometimes seem like one of those modern conveniences that's more trouble than it's worth. It's notoriously buggy; sometimes calls get dropped for no reason, or connectivity is terrible at random. It can be difficult to predict how well a Skype session will go for these reasons, but it's more likely to run smoothly if you have new, high-quality equipment. However, even at its fussiest, Skype has the potential to bring together families and other groups of people. There's nothing like face-to-face communication, and Skype's video calls get close to replicating that experience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ways people have used technology to communicate through history. What did they do before Skype, before email, before telephones? Explain that, for many years, the only way people could stay in touch was by writing letters. Ask your kids if they can imagine doing that today.
Talk to kids about the difference between video calls and regular phone calls. Which do they prefer? Why?
For kids who love communicating
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