Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How Do Y'all Stay Connected?

Since our holiday celebrations ended Sunday when Deanie and DrummerBoy left for Nashville and my dad and stepmom left for NC, I thought this would be a good time to discuss how we empty nesters can stay in touch with our loved ones who live away from us. Plus, it'a good diversion from the initial emptiness that hovers over us like a cloud of doom and drops down enveloping us in a shroud of quiet and sadness at the end of a fabulous family gathering. Let's move on. I feel a soapbox coming on. Ha!

If you are a regular around Empty Nest, you know how I am about digital citizenship and internet safety. Anal barely covers my opinion on the matter. As a former teacher of technology to elementary students, I developed hardcore rules that I not only share freely (translation- tell people whether they ask me or not or jump up on my soapbox as soon as the conversation leaves me an opening) but that I, myself, practice. 

Technology can be a hindrance in just about anything we do. It keeps us from talking face-to-face as much. It keeps us inside in front of artificial light. It ruins our eyesight and our attention span. It messes with our social skills and keeps us inactive. We are constantly distracted by our devices and we exhibit rude behavior in the company of others. It has made it easier for us to bully others and to have our lives stolen by thieves. We are so impressed by technology, that we get all caught up in the web and we can't find our way out. Not only that, but we don't seem that interested in an escape. We all seem to be on the fast track to being overtaken by those who are so technology savvy, that they can do so. Could it be that believing our society needs to be the way it was decades ago is naive? Considering the way society is changing in the ways of technology, yes. If we don't evolve with the changes, we're sunk. That's why educating ourselves in this matter is of vital importance. 

All that being said, there are numerous wonderful things about technology that can do things from cooking a meal to opening communication to the world of children with autism to saving lives. One wonderful thing technology helps empty nesters with is staying in touch.

If seems these days our children not only grow up and move out into the world to make their mark, they also tend to move further away. Some of them are following dreams, some are continuing their education, some are following jobs, some are seeking adventure in a big city, some are following love...there are countless reasons why some of our children move away but the problem is the same: they are far away.

So, how are we supposed to keep in touch? This is where I am most grateful for the digital age. In our family, we make good use of:
  • texting
  • Skype
  • email
  • social media
  • WhatsApp
  • blogging
  • the cloud
  • Google Shared Drive
Right now, two things have happened that are putting a new digital need on our family--
  • the age of my parents and aunt
  • a granddaughter arrived on the scene
We've recently set my mother up with a Kindle Fire. This is not only helping keep her mind sharp with the mental challenge-type games and countless books we installed but it keeps her in touch with Baby M via pictures and videos. We are constantly updating with hundreds of photos of Baby M and Mother LOVES sitting and looking at them over and over and over again. The only problem is that Mother does not have, nor is she interested in having internet service. Same thing with my aunt. Dad has my step-mom to keep an eye on him and they have internet. They're fine.

I've found a couple of interesting products for keeping in touch with aging parents or other relatives (I've only recently begun this search so please share in the comment section what y'all have found and find safe..I'll post more as my research continues):
Baby M's parents and I use Foscam to keep an eye on Baby M. It's great for everyone that I am taking care of Baby M during the day while her parents work but it's still not the same when it comes to seeing a milestone take place. I hope they can see her with my Foscam because that would be the next best thing to being there, but I'm still not sure how that works since I just started using one. The main factor I want in a digital device of this sort is SAFETY. I am not interested at all in anything that can be easily hacked into and have strangers watching anyone in my family all day long. I wonder if this is even possible. I mean, people can easily access your laptop/tablet/etc camera without you knowing it. Which is why I keep a piece of tape over mine.

Here's a list I found of the top 7 baby monitors for 2016 on Fatherly.

The digital world has made it easier to stay connected with our aging parents and our children/grandchildren though I wonder how safe all of our options are. Safety will always be of the utmost concern for me.

And those devices such as Google Home and the Amazon Alexa? Well, watch this:

Hilarious! But I thought it was great for making a point: We have to be so careful in these digital days.

How are y'all staying connected with your family members who live away?


  1. We do enjoy texting. For Christmas, for the first time ever, we Skyped with Amber and Dylan. I was nice to see them on the computer screen rather than just talking to them on the phone. Thank you for sharing these items with me.

    1. We text a lot too. And Skype was helpful to us, too when Reni was in grad school in Texas. But nothing is quite as good as in person, is it? :) Hope some of these are helpful to you!

  2. Happy New Year, Pam. This was a good post and I particularly liked the part about the security. With grandchildren myself, it is a worry. Myself and my daughter try to be very vigilant.
    I love the modern technology for keeping in touch with the family.

    1. Thank you, Diane! Happy New Year to you, too! We can never be too safe when it comes to technology. I hope it's at the forefront of everyone's mind these days. :)

  3. "shroud of quiet" - I don't have the same reaction as you. It would be more of the shrine of quiet for me. The chaos of it all tends to bother me a bit after a few hours. Great to interact but in small doses.
    I like your thoughts on technology and your concern for hacking. Too many people take at the it wouldn't happen to me attitude. I don't like the idea of too much information in my smartphone. The smartphones have too much information in them already. Yes the sharing of pictures, live video chats, and even updates on FB are the benefits. But hackers will hack. I don't understand why more pictures and updates can't just be sent via email. Facebook and whatever other app provider doesn't need to know more about us.

    1. Hackers will hack is EXACTLY right! And well put! Thanks!

  4. Facebook, email and (gasp) the telephone! We are the 'aging' folks and don't have any little ones. Our youngest family member is 20 year old grandson. Thanks for the tips though!!

    1. I'm looking at good ideas for the aging folks too. My parents are getting up there and, like it or not, the days are coming when the lovelies will have to figure this out for me.

  5. I may need to learn more about Skype and such things if my daughter does in fact move to a different state, I prefer normal phone calls but know at times I would prefer to see them not just hear them

    1. It does make a difference. Just be really careful when you use it. :)


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! It makes me feel connected to everyone even though we may live far apart! Have a wonderful day!

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