Live From Prague: Google Maps and Skype Keeps Parents and Daughter Connected
When the opportunity to spend the summer in Prague first presented itself for the daughter of some friends of ours, the initial feelings of anticipation and excitement quickly gave way to typical parental feelings of fear and worry.
Our friends, the Morrisons, were excited that their daughter Kate would have the chance to study in Europe, but being children of the Cold War, they were concerned that life in the former Eastern Bloc nation would present certain street-smart challenges that their Southern U.S.-raised, country girl might not be prepared to expect.
As good parents do, the Morrisons reviewed the program's academic structure, spoke with the faculty advisor who had arranged the trips, and even researched the apartment's location on Google Maps.
With most of their fears put to rest, the Morrisons had something new to consider: how would they communicate with Kate across the miles. Luckily, they live in the future, so they wouldn't have wait days or weeks for letters to arrive via airmail with stale information.
Kate had the solution and it was two-fold. First, she set up a free blog using Wordpress.com so she could have a place to document her experiences. Second, she set up a Flickr account to upload her photos. Third, she introduced her parents to the idea of Skype, which is an Internet-based video call. Users download free software, configure their web cams, and click "call". The service works over the internet the same way e-mail does. It is also free to use, just like e-mail, but it is live and visual.
The Morrisons were sold immediately. Once Kate was settled in Prague, she made her first call, and the whole family was "Skyping" in real time. Kate could see her little brother, who missed her terribly, and her grandparents even joined in.
Everyone else who knew her were able to keep up with her travels that criss-crossed Central and Eastern Europe via the blog, and the Flickr photos.
Ultimately, no one was left out of the conversation about Kate's trip abroad.