I suspect my family is like many others around the nation and world with relatives living all over the place. Also, I suspect many families and friends are enjoying the new ways they stay in contact with their geographically displaced relatives using new media technologies like email, Facebook, blogging, Google Voice, text messaging and more.
Over Thanksgiving weekend 2010, I experience the most creative approach to celebrating the exciting events that families share — a baby shower — and Skype was the technology making all this possible. Hence the Skype Baby shower 2010!
My brother and sister-in-law live in Pasadena, California while most of the family lives in the mid-west (throughout Michigan, Ohio and Indiana mostly). The great news is they became pregnant with twins — the bad news is they live in Pasadena, California.
How can a family celebrate such an exciting thing like the birth of twins when everyone is geographically displaced? What’s an expectant grandmother to do?
For those unfamiliar, Skype is a web technology offering a range of interactive services — some offered free and some with fees. When you register on Skype, users have a number of choices including:
- Instant Messaging: chatting or “IMing” one-2-one with other Skype users.
- Phone Calls: You can make voice and video calls Skype-to-Skype, cell phones, and landlines to domestic numbers free. There is a fee to make international calls.
- Facebook News Feed View: Grant Skype access to your Facebook account and interact with your news feed via Skype.
A Skype Baby Shower! Being the creative and expectant grandmother she is, my mother devised a plan: Ask the parents-to-be to register online (as they normally would).
Next, request likely baby shower attendees to have their gifts sent directly to the parents-to-be. Then, schedule a baby shower.
Finally, during the baby shower, the parents open the gifts that have been shipped to them while on a Skype video call with all the attendees gathered together to watch. Fantastic plan right?
The Result and Highlights
An interesting family event.
Rather than scrap the typical baby shower games that circulate around the mother-to-be like guessing how many toilet paper squares it takes to go all the way around her belly or identify horribly tasting the baby food — we played other interesting games such as “Baby-Themed Scatagories.”
I admit, I did feel a little bad having so much fun with mom, but that didn’t stop me from accepting my well deserved door prize — a crown (which makes complete sense).
Since, my sister-in-law had her babies early — she was a little exhausted during the event. And since we (in Michigan) were ready to get started later than originally scheduled– the party was further delayed because mom needed to express milk.
I’m glad she decided to do that off camera — not everyone is so considerate.
As you can likely imagine — there were some technology issues and the declared “Tech Committee” (AKA another brother-in-law with an engineering degree with mad pumpkin carving skills) was called to resolve them; however there were a few highlights of the event. The most notable being my brother and sister-in-law saying “hello” to baby Carter via Skype video call (pictured here).
You can’t tell me it’s not weird to hold a laptop up to a baby — with limited motor skills and cognition — to view people he’s never seen in 2D?
I admit, I was a little skeptical of my creative mother’s idea, but being the tech enthusiast that I am, I really wanted to see how her brainchild came to fruition. Other than feeling a little strange celebrating a woman and babies that were not in attendance and having a lot of fun without the guests of honor – it was great.
When you put it all together – the use of Skype to have a baby shower for geographically dispersed family celebrations– makes for an interesting take on how the use of technology enhances our lives in significant ways.
Has your family or friends used new media technology in creative ways to stay connected? Share your story below, I’d love to learn how others use technology work for them.