the joys of the video call – elmo from 5,000 miles away

The mainstream media is usually only good at picking up trends that affect the lives of its editors (and I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter and editor).

This is one of them – on video calls between toddlers and grandparents.  And it shows that we have something in common with the editors at the New York Times …

At my job, almost every American, Brit, Australian with kids gets on Skype or MSN Messenger and video calls back home.

I am just old enough that I went abroad for the first time – to Budapest in 1994 – and actually wrote letters home.  I e-mailed a few friends but that was new and fancy and impossible to figure out on ancient IBMs in some small room in the depths of the Hungarian university building.

Nope, I wrote letters, and my parents made short, expensive phone calls to a land line.  Now we see my parents, my sister and nephew and my grandparents live and in color.  They are far far away but also in the living room all the time.

The article forces the idea of two trends, grandparents who use video calls as an excuse to stay away and grandparents who yearn all the more for their distant grandkids.

Whatever.  Every family is different.  For me, I can’t even think that far.  It seems so normal to me, maybe because it is so normal for NK.

In the telecom world, they talk about “digital immigrants,” or people who were not born into a connected world.  I am one, with my childhood of record players and BASIC computer classes and letters and rotary phones.  And they talk about “digital natives,” who are like NK, who will never know anything else.

My parents have a Tickle Me Elmo and NK just loves to watch it play, grainy and crooked as the picture may be.

She still gets mad that they aren’t here though.  She knows the difference.  She’s a smart one.


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