Not all that long ago, mobile phone texts brought instantaneous teen communication to a new level. But has texting lost its shine?
Many users are increasingly connecting to a friend through video chat. While Skype.com, the online calling and video chat room, may come to mind, another company, ooVoo.com, allows multiple users to connect to each other through video for free.
Their specialty is a consistent high quality image available on mobile devices. "We find people are keeping ooVoo.com open, as if it were a dorm room," says company president Jay Samit. This allows the caller to share impromptu moments in real time. Potential exists for interconnected gaming and interruptive advertisements to bridge those awkward silences when there isn't any more to say (Angus Loten, “Video-Chat Tool With Teen Base,” WSJ.com, May 8, 2013).
Time well spent?
Another video chat site is Tinychat.com, a web-based service that allows users to connect to any chat room on hundreds of interests. Users can be in multiple chats at once, even as many as 12, with countless more audio-only feeds. Multitasking that much takes considerable skill. It begs the question: how many subjects are so fascinating that they justify that level of exertion?
Connecting with friends is great, but just being technologically connected may not mean your relationship has depth or value. True conversation is what counts, but kudos to ooVoo.com for access to non-verbal cues and shared experiences. It's not just a conversation but an all-around communication tool.
Even so, nothing can replace face to face time. "For better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away (Proverbs 27:10)." A secret stays secret if there is no electronic trail. There's a difference between virtual games and shooting some hoops. Giving a hug just doesn't have the same feel through a screen.
Teens have the ability to write their own autobiography daily through social media. Through video chat, users are visually present while the event is occurring. No need for delay or event summary, and no reason to miss out on that graduation party when you are out of town.
Your fifteen minutes—or more—of fame?
Since the debut of reality television, fame has spread to ordinary people. Most teens cannot resist the opportunity to have other people’s eyes watching approvingly. But a consequence of fame, even in this small measure, is less privacy. We have all heard the risks of sharing too much private information in public forums with people we've only met online. However, in "private rooms" the company is still able to monitor and harvest data for advertisers.
Is 24/7 connectivity and communication in your future? Like many other online sites and programs, it can be a great tool. In the business world, video chats connect far-flung executives.
As with all technology, remember to use videos chats carefully and with purpose. Avoid turning a good thing into a time drain. Don't let the lure of connectivity and friends make you avoid other obligations.
Most importantly, plan time to communicate with God. You don't need a video chat to bridge the distance. Chat time with God is available anytime, anywhere – and your content is always secure!