My grandson is lucky enough to have two great grandparents — my mom and dad — and we use FaceTime so they can visit with the baby despite the 500 miles that separates them.
He is too young to understand the importance of communicating with FaceTime. Oh, he’s interested the iPad or iPhone, and he is quite curious about the black silicon tripod. When my grandson sees himself on camera, he is delighted with the images, but right now he does not really get the significance of what’s going on as we all watch one another by telephone.
On the other hand, my parents, his great grandparents, totally understand the significance of the activity. They watch him moving around on camera, eating breakfast, or playing with his toys. No matter what they are doing, they will happily drop it and sit down with the iPad if a FaceTime opportunity arises. Once online they wave (he’s just learned how to wave back — sometimes) or make silly sounds, or just marvel at how much he has grown since the last time.
Our set-up is simple. On the baby’s end a tripod holds an iPad (sometimes an iPhone) that’s connected to wifi. On the great grandparents’ end we’ve found that the iPad on their wifi works just fine, but when I am visiting my parents, we FaceTime with my Mac Powerbook, which enables the images of the baby to fill up the laptop’s screen. My parents understand how the iPad works, and sometime, a few sessions from now in the future, they will be able to connect themselves. You might enjoy reading Shortening the Distance for Long Distance Grandparents, a post which describes some of the mechanics of long distance family video calls.
The use of FaceTime has made my parents — the great grandparents — long distance participants in their great grandson’s life, and that’s pretty special.
N.B. If you like this post, and are using technology with your aging parents, you might want to read my iPad for Dad series, as group of posts that describe how my dad started using his new iPad.