News Column

Technology Keeps Family Close

Sept. 18, 2012
social media and skype

I was chatting this week with Harley Hunter, owner of the Grandfather's Clock Gallery at 31st and Yale, about the difficulty of staying in touch with his teen-age grandsons.

They aren't comfortable talking on the phone, or talking face to face, but they both text. And so he texts them regularly, and they respond.

"Ninety-five percent of our conversation is texting," Harley said.

I have a love-hate relationship with social media, and the digital revolution in general. I love digital photography, storing thousands of photos free on a tiny chip, and sending them any place on the planet in a microsecond. And I consider email the greatest communication tool ever invented.

But I despise Facebook, and use it only because, as a reporter, I can't afford to ignore such an important source of information.

I am warming to texting, though. And, like Harley, I've found it's a quick and effective way to stay in touch with grandkids, whether they are across town or across the country.

A recent study by MetLife found that more and more grandparents are keeping up with their grandkids on the social media, albeit reluctantly at times. They prefer face-to-face conversation, and the traditional phone call; but 24 percent use Facebook, 31 percent use email, and 12 percent use Skype,

It's out of character for me, but I'm in that 12 percent that use Skype. For those of you who, like me, still miss the sound of music on vinyl records, Skype is a live conversation in which both parties can hear and see each other on a computer screen.

Skyping is as close to a real conversation as you can have without being there. When I Skype with my grandkids in Florida, I can hear my daughter-in-law puttering in the kitchen in the background, and I can call out to her, and hear her respond. The kids take turns in front of the screen, or all crowd in at the same time. They can show off their new kitten, their new hair style, or even show me a photo of a fish they just caught.

It's free. And it takes away some of the sting of not seeing them in person for months at a time.

Source: (C) 2012 Tulsa World. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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