How to stay in touch with your family using high speed internet

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Posted on: 28 August 2014 by Sarah Mello

A brief guide on how to use high speed internet to keep in contact with friends and family as you age

While people in their 70s, 80s and even 90s might have missed out on the first waves of the computer age and find it a little difficult to get to grips with today’s systems, that’s not to suggest they’re unable to master it completely.

Many older people manage to utilise technology and the Internet to great advantage, earning them the term “silver surfers” and a common activity of this group is staying in touch with family and friends.

VOIP

While short message mediums such as Twitter are popular for their immediacy, the number of over-50s using VoIP solutions to talk to each other shows that different approaches can have a completely separate appeal. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and allows users to speak to family and friends in real time wherever they are in the world.

According to data from Just Retired, 90% of those over the age of 50 years use the Internet and broadband connections to communicate with many of these expected to use VOIP services.

To connect with friends and family in this way you need to:

·       Determine what sort of users you are (whether you’re calling from computer to computer etc)

·       Use a connector to join your phone with your broadband connection (this is usually an ATA [Analogue Telephone Adaptor]) or use an IP Phone which plugs directly into your router instead of the phone socket on the wall

·       Install relevant software on your PC to ensure calls are supported

This article on WikiHow goes through the steps in more detail for those interested in giving it a try.

Alternatively, users can also access free VOIP services which are hosted on the Internet; the most common example being Skype. Users can sign up for a free account and add contacts to connect with. They can then send them instant messages (these are private and not viewable by other users) and engage in real-time video calls or voice calls with them. These are even free when contacting people in foreign countries.

Social media

VOIP services can be a little fiddly for some people to use and this is where simpler communication mediums – such as social media – come into play. These sites are designed to offer instantaneous and easy communication between individuals and there are a variety of forms it can take:

·       Public messages: these are messages which can be viewed by the sender, the recipient and any of their connections. Common examples are messages written on someone’s Facebook timeline and tweets

·       Private messages: these are messages which can only be viewed by the sender and the recipient. These are often integrated with “chat” functions which allow users to send instant messages to one another. Both Facebook and Twitter support these types of messages although Twitter does not offer a dedicated chat function like Facebook

·       Media: as well as sending written messages to one another, social media users can also communicate through other forms of media. Photos and videos can be uploaded for public view or sent as an attachment on a private message

What do you need to communicate with family over the Internet?

If you’re interested in getting started on connecting with family members over the Internet then you need to make sure you have the right equipment and tools at your disposal. This includes:

·       A stable internet connection – this will ensure you’re able to access information quickly and easily and won’t leave you desperately waiting for pages to load. Popular examples include Infinity superfast broadband

·       Sufficient download allowances – this will determine how many photographs and files you can download from websites and store on your PC; going over your limit could incur additional fees

·       A wireless connection – this will ensure your mobile phone, tablet or computer can all be connected without leads and cables presenting a trip hazard in your home

·       A web cam or integrated camera – vital for Skype or video chats and for taking pictures to upload and share on social media

·       A little patience – it might take you a little longer to learn the ropes of new technology but it’ll be worth it in the end so stick with it!

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Sarah Mello

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