July is the time when many Augusta teens are preparing to leave the nest and head off to college.
For those who have never lived outside of Augusta, this transition from living at home with a family to independently living is often difficult. However, the increasing popularity of free video chat applications such as Skype and Oovoo make loved ones appear not quite as far away.
Skype was developed in 2003 by the same developers who created the file sharing application Kazaa. By accessing Skype.com, one can download a free Skype application and create his or her own personal login name. After creating a login name, one can participate in free web cam chats and instant messages with virtually anyone who has a Skype account. In addition, Skype offers phone service to land lines for a monthly fee.
Oovoo, which was established in 2007, offers similar services to that of Skype excluding the phone service to land lines. Deciding between Skype and Oovoo? Both Skype and Oovoo are compatible with Windows and Mac computer systems.
However, Skype's compatibility encompasses a wide variety of gadgets, including an application for the iPhone and the PlayStation Portable. While Skype allows for chats between two users, Oovoo allows for chats between up to six users. Oovoo also allows chat members to photograph their chat group during conversation. Both applications have features which allow the use of instant messaging and web chatting simultaneously.
Thus, if one user has a webcam while the other user does not, the user without the webcam can instant message while the webcam user can answer via webcam. Users can search for fellow Skype users via e-mail contact lists and contact lists on social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.
Both sites are a great (and free) way to keep in touch with loved ones at home and friends at other colleges. A simple investment in a webcam or a laptop with a built in webcam and a membership to one of these applications can go a long way in the teen's transition to college.
Teen Board Member Jackie Rodriguez is a recent graduate of Evans High School