Setting up a Webcam on Mom or Dad's Computer is a Great Idea

A webcam is great on Mom or Dad's home computer for family chats; but don’t forget that dial-up is too slow for live video.

You must get a home computer for your Mom or Dad or shut-in. Set up the solitaire games and then set up email and color printing.

When they are used to using that, then they are ready for instant messaging (IM) and then live video and audio. We started with ICQ and Yahoo! IM, and now there are other great programs for communicating.

We could set up “conference calls” with all of us kids and Mom and Dad online together. We would be writing our messages while watching other writing their messages- like having a conversation in the living room except there was no voice.

Sometimes, the conversations would lag for lack of what to say next. It started to get uncomfortable because it wasn’t really the living room where it would still be polite to watch a bit of TV or read the newspaper between bits of conversation. Here, somehow it was not polite to have the lapses in the conversation. Even with family.

So we went took it to the next level. We each got a small cheap video-cam for the desktop. Still using ICQ or Yahoo, we could now see each other and talk live together. We could also arrange “conference calls” and have several of us online at the same time.

It is great to see Mom in her computer room on video while we are talking together. She can move the camera around to show me the view outdoors or something new that she bought. And I can show her the backyard in bloom where we sat together last spring.

But don’t forget that a dial-up Internet connection is just too slow for a decent conversation and you will experience frequent disconnections- I learned the hard way.

Besides a webcam, here are some more great tips