There are social networks, instant messaging, and of course, video chat.
Out of these, video chat is especially popular, as it also lets you see the other person in real-time.
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Anyone can have a free Skype account, which allows them unlimited one-on-one video chat. There are also mobile-to-mobile ‘apps’ such as Face Time (all Apple products such as Mac and i Phone) and Google Hangouts (Android devices and PCs), all of which are free.
So, hook up a device to a screen in front of the whole class, or use the technology on a one-to-one basis between children or in child-to-adult scenarios.
This presents an interesting design challenge of supporting teen use of video chat while mitigating privacy and parental concerns.
To better understand this design space, we present the results of a study of twenty teenagers and their use of video chat systems such as Skype, Face Time, and Google Hangouts.
Our results show that video chat plays an important role in helping teenagers socialize with their friends after school and on weekends where it allows them to see emotional reactions and participate in activities like shared homework sessions, show and tell, and performances over distance.
As it turns out, Ella is something of a technological trail blazer.
As parents get busier and kids get more familiar with video-conferencing technology, the idea of a "video playdate" is gaining nascent acceptance in tech-enabled corners of America.