The long distance phone calls can be a nice to do, but can’t always replicate being part of someone’s life at a closer level.
Having said this, there are indeed lots of ways we can use technology to stay connected. Let’s be honest – no gadget can replace a real hug, but they can help us to stay in touch and feel closer. So, here are a few handy tips that will help you to get back in the loop, re-join the conversation or just simply stay connected.
Skype is a great way to keep in touch with loved ones who live further afield – it allows you to by-pass the telephone lines and make calls via the internet, so you get to stay in touch at no cost. Some of the other convenient features include connecting via video chat, sharing files, forwarding calls and instant messaging. Setting up is simple – you just need a computer with an internet connection and each person you want to Skype will need to download the software and sign up.
Capturing your adventures on camera is a great way to share your experiences with friends and family. Photo sharing sites let you store and share your pics with friends and family absolutely anywhere in the world.
- Shutterfly: You can store unlimited photos for free, and instantly share your seasonal snaps with family and friends.
- Flickr: Easily upload 100MB worth of photos each month from your desktop, email, mobile device or browser. Label and tag your pics for easy organisation and of course, share your photos by either using the share button or creating a personal Flickr web address to send to friends.
If you’re living overseas, you can share daily updates of your lives with the folks back home by posting regular statuses on Facebook. The social networking site allows you to ‘check in’ to show who you’re with and where, and you can even post photos you’ve just taken or contact someone you know in a private message.
Keeping in touch with a teenager can be a stressful business – not least because they just won’t answer their phone or tell you what they’ve been up to. One solution that 38-year old Penny has found is to use the teenager’s favourite smartphone app Snapchat. This allows you to take a photo and then send it with a caption to someone who can then only open it once and for a few seconds.
“It sounds mad, but for some reason both Olivia and her friends are more likely to open Snapchat than they are to answer the phone or text back. It’s also quite funny to get these weird shots of whatever they’re up to at the time. When she was away at camp I got a whole load of fun snaps that let me know what she’s been doing.”
“Another way I find out what she’s up to is when she posts a Vine on Facebook. There have been some really funny ones from when she went away for the weekend with a family friend.”
Vine is a smartphone app that allows you to make short, video clips and edit them into a short story.
What better way to make loved ones feel like they’re part of the festivities than with a video of your holiday fun? If you have an iPad, shooting a video is really easy using the inbuilt camera and a great way to treat friends and family to a holiday movie you’ve created yourself. Once you shoot, edit and finalise your masterpiece, there are many ways to share including a link in an email, YouTube or burning it onto a DVD and mailing it out.
Get one step ahead of email and use instant messaging. Whether through Skype (see above), Windows Live Messenger or Yahoo Messenger, simply create an account, add contacts and start chatting when you’re friends and family are online. Most instant messaging services also allow for photo sharing, file sharing and video chats.
Make it a habit
Staying in contact with people shouldn’t be a burden or a hassle. Most people only find the task tedious because they go so long in between contact that they feel nervous about getting in touch again, or because they feel like they need enough time to “catch up” and their busy schedule won’t let them. Devote some of your time in your calendar to stay in contact and it won’t be so hard for you.
If you go some time without contacting a person and you keep thinking you want to call them or send them a letter but end up procrastinating, you are only making it harder to get in touch. Just give them a call anyway or write to them explaining why you haven’t been in touch and how you’d love to catch up – this will show that you are thinking of the person and want to say hello. Don’t get trapped into thinking you have to make excuses for not writing sooner or over-explain why you haven’t been in touch – your friend will just be happy to hear from you.
Here are some additional technology tips:
Make quick calls – Even if you can’t talk for a long time, a quick call to say hello will keep you in touch. Don’t be afraid to say “I only have 10 minutes; I just want to say hi”.
- Use video messaging – You can see and speak to each other live via computer.
- Create a blog – You can use an individual blog to talk about your life so friends and family members can keep track of you or you can create a family blog and allow different members of the family to use it to share photos, updates and more.
Mastering new technology may seem a little daunting if it’s not in your blood like it is the younger generation. But it can be done. In 2000, just 11 per cent of one person households of people of pensionable age were online, in 2008 that was 37 per cent. If you’re struggling, get your grandson or granddaughter to show you how. Otherwise, there are plenty of how-to guides online or you could even ask about lessons at the local library.
Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial adviser about your own circumstances.