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Get Connected: Ways to Keep in Touch

Darla shares some of her favorite way to keep in touch with loved ones

My life is very hectic, and with the pace I keep, I often wonder how do I do it all. Staying connected with friends and family is extremely important to me, but I often find that with the limited time that I have, going over to visit someone is just not feasible. Thankfully there are others like me, and they have created tools that you can use to keep in touch with everyone in your ilfe. Here are a few of my favorites I wanted to share today:

1. Facebook: It goes without saying that Facebook is the easiest way to keep in touch with everyone in your life. You can create special groups to catch updates on your favorite hobbies, similar to what Nicole posted here on the blog on Friday. You can change your newsfeed (updates you see when you open Facebook) to pre-determined groups that you have created. I have mine set up to close friends, and in a few seconds I can see what my family members are doing. This is very useful since my brother lives in Georgia, and my sisters have schedules that are just as crazy as mine, so visits are not often enough. We often joke with each other that we find out more about each other on Facebook than when we talk on the phone! :D

2. Facetime: Facetime is another cool way to keep in touch with someone who has an iPhone 4s, 4th generation (or higher) iPod touch, iPad 2 or higher, or Macs that have FaceTime activated and are connected to Wi-Fi networks. Your Facetime works just like a phone call but instead of just hearing the person, you get to actually see them in real time. When you are done, you just hang up to disconnect. I have used it when I needed my husband’s input on something or wanted to talk to my mom. Now I have heard of parents of teens using it to confirm their kid is where they should be, but I haven’t yet resorted to this!

3. Instagram: Being a parent of teens, I have quickly learned that Facebook is considered “old news” in our house, and the girls and all my nieces and nephews prefer to use Instagram to keep in touch with their friends. Instagram is available on both iPhones and Android phones, and you can also view your feed online on your personal computer. The program is pretty basic: post your photos for your followers to see and your friends will “like” or comment on them. You can follow anyone who has an account, similar to how Facebook feeds work. There are settings you can enable on your phone to receive notifications when someone has commented or liked a photo you posted as well as privacy settings to control who can see your photos.

4. Texting: Texting has been around since 1999 and has quickly become the easiest and quickest way to keep in touch. To illustrate how much this way of communicating has become a part of our lives, take a look at these quick facts:

• 96.4% of smartphone users send text messages on their devices
• US women text on their mobile phones 14% more than men
• 49% of those who use social media daily would rather text than call a person
• The average person responds to a text message in 90 seconds, compared to 90 minutes for an email
• Teenagers sent an average of 193 text messages every week, more than double the number they sent in 2011
• Girls aged 12–15 years were found to be the most prolific texters, sending 32 messages a day, or 221 a week, compared with 23 a day for boys

Most smartphones come with a basic text message application, but you can also find many 3rd source applications to download and install to your smartphones if you are looking for something different. Some of the popular ones are: Kik (available on iPhone, Android, and Blackberry); Google Voice (available on iPhone, Android, and Blackberry); and Whatsapp (available on iPhone, Android, and Blackberry).

5. Skype: Skype is a Microsoft application that allows users to make voice and video calls and chat over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can be made for a fee using a debit-based user account system. Skype has also become popular for its additional features which include instant messaging, file transfer, and video conferencing. The application is available for installation on your personal computer as well as on your smartphones or tablets, which makes it a great tool for communication. My girls use this often to talk to their cousins in Georgia as well as work on homework with some of their friends.

6. OoVoo: OoVoo is another application that allows you to video chat and instant message people from your desktop, mobile phone, tablets, or Facebook. However, the unique feature that sets this apart from Skype is that you can chat with up to 12 people at a time, something my girls do often when planning their weekend out or working on school group projects.

7. Snapchat: Snapchat is a photo messaging application that allows users to take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their photos, up to 10 seconds, after which it will be deleted from the recipient’s device and the company’s servers. It is available on both iOS and Android phones/tablets. Since messages are timed before they are deleted, this is just a quick way to say “hey” to someone. My nieces use it to show off quick photos of my littlest niece and to send funny faces to their closest friends. It is important to know that there is some controversy about this application, so be sure to read up on it and then take the proactive steps as a parent to openly discuss the use of this application with your kids.

There are many other ways and applications to keep in touch with your friends and family, but sometimes a good ole fashion visit or phone call may be the best way to know how your mother is doing. :) Enjoy your day!

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