My nearly one-year-old son can be playing in a world of his own with a toy in either hand, but when that familiar “beep beep beep beep” alert sounds from my smartphone, suddenly nothing else matters. The toys waving in the air come to a halt, and his eyes widen, excitement taking over his chubby cheeks. He knows that on the other end of that robotic ringing sound is a familiar face ready to sing songs, blow kisses, and “ooh” and “ahh” over every little thing he does.
Living hundreds of miles away from family and having a baby born in the midst of a global pandemic, our little family has experienced fewer resources more precious than “Facetime.”
In a world where we often feel the burnout from technology and social media, Facetime has continued to be the one app that I’m grateful for, day-in and day out. Of course, our family isn’t the only one who has come to appreciate and adopt Facetime as a means to stay in touch. Apple first released the iPhone-only application in 2013, and has kept families and friends connected for the last eight years, allowing real-time video calls to make the distance feel a little less difficult to bear.
Picking up the phone and seeing the other person on the screen has become second nature—so much so, that it’s pretty evident that the novelty has worn off for most of us. It’s easy to forget how incredibly inventive it really is and that there was a time where movies like Back to The Future gave us a glimpse at the same type of technology. But back then, it was almost laughable to really imagine! There have been many moments where my Grandma back home in Florida gets overwhelmed seeing my son (her great-grandson) on Facetime, and reminds me just how special it is that we can do this. “I live for these calls!” she tells me each week when she gets to see little baby giggles in real-time. Hearing her tell me how amazing it is and how she would have given anything to have this option when my big sister and I were little and still in New York really helps keep things in perspective.
From being able to watch my nieces and nephews in Florida blow out their birthday candles to having my Mom and Grandma see our little boy crawl for the very first time, Facetime gives me the ability to create really special memories I would otherwise be robbed of due to living out of state. Does a video chat app take the place of real, in-person communication and memory-making? Of course not! Does it make all the difference and help us share our sweet baby with those we love most in the world when we can’t be in person? Absolutely!
If you are looking to embrace Facetime more with your loved ones, the last year has taught me a few things to get the most out of these calls.
- Schedule Calls Regularly – It can be easy to let time march on and realize it’s been weeks since the last time you saw each other. Try picking one day a week or month that you’ll aim to “Facetime” together. Life happens, so if you need to reschedule or cancel, that’s definitely okay; at least now, it’s on your calendar.
- Keep Them Short – This is especially important if you have little ones! Phone calls are better suited for longer conversations; keep Facetime calls to a minimum to allow both parties to focus and enjoy the time before going back to whatever they need to do.
- Use a Phone Stand or Tripod – Go hands-free, so you can focus on enjoying the conversation and move around freely. This is very helpful for older family members who may have difficulty holding their cell phones at a good angle to see themselves, and improve comfort for them on the call.
- Give the Child the Phone – I know it may sound risky, but there’s something really fun and endearing about seeing the world from a child’s perspective. If they run around with the phone, let them for a little while. The grandparent or aunt on the other end may get a little dizzy, but it will make a fun memory.
- Prioritize Special Moments & Milestones – Holidays, birthdays, and special celebrations are difficult to miss out on, so Facetime on those special days to feel a little less “apart.” If there’s an exciting milestone happening, surprise your loved ones and phone them, so they can see the big moment!
- Remember Who Treasures It Most – It can be easy to feel like Facetiming is one more thing to add to your to-do list. Try to remember, even if it’s a short and sweet call, that seeing faces and getting to talk with family means so much to your elderly family and friends, or those who may be having a tough season.