Using Skype to Stay Connected with Friends & Family

August 05, 2014

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How long has it been since you’ve read a bedtime story to your precious grandchild in Tampa? When did you last touch base with your favorite, funny fraternity brother on the West Coast? And are you having a tough time keeping up with your Midwest childhood pals and “partners in crime”?

These days, there’s no reason to lose contact with your sweet granddaughter, Katie, your crazy frat brother, Bob, or those twin troublemakers, Carla and Carl. You can easily connect with all of them, thanks to Skype.

Skype? What’s that?

Skype is a computer software application that enables users to:

  • See family members during a free group video call.
  • Reach friends with free video calls.
  • Make affordable phone calls and send text messages to mobile phones and landlines.
  • Chat daily with free instant messages.
  • Send messages that can be seen, heard and felt with video messaging.

How to set up and use Skype

First, you’ll need:

  • Device such as a desktop or laptop computer, gaming system; Internet connection; tablet; home phone, smartphone (Android and iPhone) or TV
  • Webcam (web camera)
  • Set of speakers or headphones
  • Microphone

Brand names don’t matter and your device’s platform doesn’t either; it can be PC/Windows-based or Mac-based.

Once you have all the equipment you need, you’re ready to install, or download, Skype software. The application is free and available at www.skype.com. Simply click on the Download button at the top of the Skype page, then click on the photo of the device where you want to install the program. You’ll get plenty of instructions during the download process, but if you have problems, make your way to technical support.

Skype offers a range of connectivity options. Free services include your Skype account, video and voice calls to other Skype users, and instant messaging and file sharing. Fees are charged for services such as calls to mobile phones and landlines worldwide, text messages and access to public hot spots (locations providing wireless Internet connections) worldwide.

Links to instructional resources

Nervous about your foray into the world of Skype? Fear not: The website doesn’t leave you to your own devices. On the homepage, click on the “Learn the Essentials” box for instant access to how-to videos designed to quickly turn you into a Skype user.

Skype is not your only option

Other companies provide services similar to Skype’s. For example, Web search engine Google created three programs that compete with Skype: Google Hangouts for video conferences; Google Talk for instant messaging; and Google Voice, phone calls made over the Internet via Google email – or Gmail – accounts. You can find other other companies that provide these types of services by typing “programs similar to Skype” in your Web browser’s search box.

Your favorite gadget or gizmo can turn you into a videoconferencing/instant messaging/Internet phone chatting pro. That means you no longer have a reason to lose contact with the ones you love.

For more information on ways to stay active in retirement, download our free guide, 5 Ways to Stay Active in Retirement.

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