February 23, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
We all know that chatting with family and friends through a computer screen is not the same as sitting down face-to-face. But if your loved one lives cross-country, why not keep in touch via video chat? PJ Feinstein, local blogger and creator of bunnyanddolly.com, video chats to stay in touch with family from New Jersey, Ohio, and Georgia.

Feinstein and her toddler son have a daily video chatting routine. They chat with her parents or his baby cousin over lunch and his other grandparents before dinner.

“We mostly talk with family, and I totally credit video chatting with letting him form relationships with grandparents that he only sees a few times a year. Frequently interacting with them over FaceTime has made it less awkward when we see them in person; we haven’t had to reintroduce family members to him,” Feinstein says.

Feinstein believes that video chatting has a much more personal element than staying connected over the phone. “I’ve never been much of a phone person, but video chatting feels so much more intimate—almost like I’m having an in-person conversation with somebody.”20140214_bs_7144

Feinstein occasionally uses Skype but finds FaceTime much more convenient because she can connect anywhere there is Wi-Fi, not just on her home computer. Another huge perk for Feinstein is the ability to see family and friends on a daily basis without paying for a plane ticket.

Good lighting is key. Feinstein recommends not sitting with your back to a window or lamp because it will be hard for your companion to see you. “And cell phone etiquette still applies even if you’re video chatting: When in public, talk quietly and wear headphones instead of listening on speakerphone,” she says.

Video chatting is very simple now that most devices have built-in cameras, no longer making it necessary to hook up external cameras. “The process goes a lot smoother, whether you’re using FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangout,” says Feinstein.

The only downside of FaceTime is getting those early morning chat requests. It is completely acceptable to deny a 6 a.m. FaceTime call. No one wants to see your bedhead.