TODAY   |  February 22, 2012

3 cool ways to stay in touch with family

TODAY’s digital lifestyle expert Mario Armstrong shows off a few fun and cool ways families can stay connected through video conferencing, texting and social media.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back at 8:36. this morning on today's tech, staying in touch with mom. if it's been a while sints you dropped by or have given her a ring she's probably told you about it. instead of feeling guilty we have ideas to keep her happy. mario armstrong is a digital lifestyle expert.

>> good morning. good to see you.

>> that's a good intro song. call me

>> no one calls anymore.

>> your way of calling is video conference .

>> what we'll see in 12 to 24 months is you will be looking at the phone, not answering it and putting it to your ear. video conferencing is the way to see people long distance.

>> you need a camera and a computer.

>> you can do it on the laptop or tablet. you need a web cam . i'm holding one. what you are looking for is dual stereo mics for great sound. look for hd for the greatest quality and a high speed internet connection to ensure a great connection.

>> does it matter if it's in the computer or not?

>> no. you want to look at the specs. you may want to bump up and buy a web cam and put it on the laptop. it may be better than the web cam that came with the laptop. bottom line is when you are buying laptops, you will see web cams in them.

>> how much are we spending on it?

>> $39 to $99.

>> we're going to put it to work, right?

>> this is face time , apple's world of chatting. you have the ipad, iphone, itouch. if you have apple devices you can use face time to connect with family and friends . over here we are going to skype with al.

>> i don't talk to al nearly enough.

>> there he is. he's in the window. skyping is easy. free to use. log onto skype .com, type in your name and profile. find any family members on skype , hit the video call button and chat with al. what's going on, al?

>> it's amazing this technology.

>> where are those $20 you owe me?

>> i lost you carl. i'm sorry. [ disconnects ] [ laughter ]

>> i don't believe that guy.

>> that's how easy it is. you hit the video call and dial him back and say, no, it wasn't a bad connection. we know you tried to cop out on us, al.

>> he's turning us down. there's a camera you cannot escape from.

>> that's how easy it is. family and friends can connect.

>> for those frustrated by the picture freezing is that a reason to give up or keep trying back?

>> normally that means your internet connection is slow or you may be doing too much wiggling. sit still. have great lighting. have an hd camera. the bottom line is you want to connect with family and friends over long distances. don't wait for the holidays to connect. skype helps with that.

>> you say texting is a way to go.

>> yes. texting is big. everyone is carrying a mobile phone . kids don't call their parents anymore. they want to text them and say, hey, mom, here's where i am. one of the things i like is group me. groups can text together. a whole family can be in one text conversation. you can have several different contacts and add more contacts. then you can see the messages as they are going back and forth. in this case they are talking about planning dinner tonight. texting is something that parents need to get comfortable with and need to move on.

>> we know about facebook but social media has ways to connect you may not have thought about before.

>> you have google plus which has google hangouts. you can do multiple people. in this case we have six different people within this one window which is awesome. you could be planning a family wedding, a family celebration or something. you want to have everyone together. what's cool about google plus is whoever is talking at the time, that's where the camera focuses on at that particular moment.

>> if you are shooting video, sending video, is there an easy way ?

>> yes. social cam. my favorite app for that. it's free. it's on the android and apple devices. my little page here. basically you shoot with your iphone or android. take a quick video. doesn't matter the length of time. you can send it to family and friends . you can make it private so only they can see it or make it public for everyone. really cool.

>> what about with my mother-in-law. i already talk to her enough. you're out of luck?

>> out of luck. get ready to put on some clothes because now you're on video, not just on phone.