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5 Tools That Help You Stay Connected When Your Family Is Far Away

Modern technology gives seniors the tools to research, play, and even keep in touch with their family and friends. In fact, approximately six out of every ten seniors use the Internet, according to a 2014 study conducted by Pew Research. These users say that their Web use helps them keep up-to-date on the things — and people — they care about.

So how can technology make it easier for you to stay connected to those you love? Check out these five tools that make the world seem a little smaller:

1. Social Media
The Pew Research study found that more than a quarter of seniors use social networking sites such as Facebook. Through social media, you can choose to connect with people you know or meet new people, send private messages, and share news, pictures, and videos. Though Facebook is particularly popular, there are a number of other social media sites that may be of interest to seniors.

2. Pinterest
You can think of Pinterest as a shared bulletin board for ideas where you can create your own boards and collaborate on boards you share with your friends and family. You can even browse other people’s boards if you’re looking for ideas. Through Pinterest, you can get involved in creative projects from afar — you could organize art projects with your grandchildren, share recipe ideas, or help your daughter pick out the perfect wedding dress.

3. Blogs
Blogs are basically online journals that are hosted by blogging sites such as WordPress and Blogger. Some blogs focus on specific topics, while others are more general. You can write your own blog, using it for such purposes as sharing stories with your grandchildren, or you can follow a loved one’s blog and (for example) stay updated on your son’s latest project. A regularly updated blog — or reading and commenting on your family’s blogs — is a great way to keep in touch and stay fresh on a variety of topics, no matter where you are.

4. Skype
Until even a few years ago, video calling seemed like something you could only see on Star Trek.

Within the last decade, though, a service known as Skype has made it commonplace. Skype allows you to make video calls for free using a computer with a Web camera, by simply registering for the service and downloading the software. It’s perfect for those chats with your loved ones when the phone isn’t enough — like when your granddaughter has a new haircut, or you want to meet your friend’s new puppy.

5. Smartphone and Tablet Apps
There are a number of applications (or apps) for smartphones and tablets that enable you to make video calls on the go. Most Apple products come with FaceTime, while devices with Android operating systems feature Google Hangouts. Both products work like Skype, where you can see and speak with the person you’re calling. The only major difference is that in this case, calls will go directly to the cell phone or tablet of the people you’d like to contact. This way, if they’re not sitting by a computer, they’ll still be able to chat.

Technology can help you stay connected to friends and family across the world. Sign up for a social media account, try Skyping, or set up a blog today. You’ll find that the Internet is full of resources designed to make you feel closer to those you love.

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