Video Playdates, Movie Nights and Study Sessions via Skype

I used to have to beg my mom to battle Los Angeles traffic when I wanted to play with my friend across town.  These days that may no longer be an issue. Let’s take a look at how video has changed our interactions.

1. Skype Playdates

Many parents who live in traffic filled cities, bad weather or far away from close friends and relatives have taken up the Skype video playdate.  Kids each have their videos on in the same room and play together.  Kids come up with a variety of new games.  Video camera hide and seek, virtual Barbie and more.

2. Date Night

Recently, I went over to one of my client’s houses and found my usual cheerful, upbeat tween forlorn and despondent.  When I asked her what was wrong she told me she and her boyfriend were doing a long distance relationship over the summer months.  We talked about the difficulty of long distance (I have also experienced this predicament before) and tried to think of ways to make it easier.  “How about letters?” I suggested. Her face crinkled up in disgust, “That would be way too old school, no we are doing Skype dates on Friday nights.”  She went on to describe their typical Friday night date night from afar—ordering Chinese food in their respective locations, watching the same movie on iTunes on their computers and then ‘cuddling’ with each other by placing their computers next to each other in bed.  “Whatever works,” I said.

3. Study Sessions

Oh boy do I get emails on this one.  Yes, I think students can study on iChat and Skype using video. Is it as efficient as studying in person at a library? That, I do not know.  I think there are pros and cons.

Pros: Less drive time, everyone is in their respective homes for supplies and breaks if needed, no romantic distractions (kissing does not help studying I found).

Cons: Technological delays, difficulty switching back and forth on the screen to notes or the internet, hard to see more than three people.

4. Video Pals

Forget pen pals, let your kids practice Spanish with their video pal in Chile!  Many parents are encouraging foreign friendships to help with language help and replace pen pals.

Concerns About Kid to Kid Video Interaction

  • Face to Face?

I worry about the lack of face time that kids and teens will have. If kids as young as 1 and 2 are having video playdates, will that become the norm?

  • Confusion?

If you watch a young child on video chat, they often try to hand the other participant things through the screen.  They have trouble distinguishing real life interactions and online interactions.  They also have more trouble paying attention to a 1 dimensional face that cannot reach out and literally ‘play’ with them.  Video playdates are not kids playing together, they are kids playing by themselves at the same time.  There is a distinct difference there.

  • Safety?

With the advent of Chatroulette, I worry that videoing with foreign strangers as penpals might be confusing when they stumble upon Chatroulette or get asked to chat by non-approved strangers.

Despite these concerns, more and more video interaction is coming.  In the new age I think we have to grasp the positives (extended learning, keeping in touch with far away family) and put in measures to prevent against the cons (diminished real life interaction, meeting with strangers or confusing our kids).

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