Skype

What It Is:
Skype is an application that allows users to chat over instant message, audio, or video.

What It Does:
Skype uses the internet to connect users in various forms of communication, and makes for convenient teleconferencing or videoconferencing among other Skype users. Skype is pretty simple in its interface and capabilities, and it was a pioneer in this form of communication, which has led to its ubiquity.

Users can also purchase credit with Skype to call landlines or mobile phones around the world.

Would My Child Want It?:
Since Skype works over the internet (instead of a mobile data plan), some people turn to it as an alternative phone/text messaging system for internet-only mobile devices (iPods, tablets, etc.). Skype is also popular for its video chat capabilities.

Where Can It Be Used?:
On any device that has an internet connection. Obviously, a microphone, a speaker, and webcam are also necessary for audio/video communication.

What Should I Watch Out For?:

  • While video chatting can be a fun way to connect with others, it can also be a temptation for inappropriate behavior.
  • Text messaging through Skype is convenient, but it can also lead to compulsive behavior.
  • There have been some concerns in the technology community about Skype’s security protocols.
  • Skype use on mobile devices that are not connected to the internet can result in maxing out a data plan.

What Are The Positives?:

  • Enables easy connection with family, friends, and loved ones, especially if those people live in a different city (or country).
  • Simple use.
  • Flexible usage options and affordable rates for phone use.

What Are The Negatives?:

  • There’s always a possibility for regrettable behavior when you link hormonally-surging adolescents together with cameras.
  • The ease of use can lead to overuse.
  • It’s possible for your kids to purchase more Skype credit without your authorization.

What We Think:
As long as it’s used properly, Skype is pretty great. If you want to allow your children to use it, we recommend that they use it on a computer that is placed in a central location in the home. And of course, if you choose to allow them to have their own account, be sure to have the username and password so you can keep tabs on their usage.