In an age where everyone has a social networking account and Facebook is the primary mode of communication for people (especially young people,) it was only a matter of time before Facebook introduced the ability to video chat.
Rolled out earlier this month, the new Facebook video chat feature is powered by Skype, which has enabled users to make free video calls since 2003. Facebook video chat allows you to connect to anyone on your “friends” list right from your Facebook account, and if they’re not there you can leave them a video message.
All it requires is a webcam and a simple plug in installation, and you can be chatting away with anyone you choose in no time.
This is a cool, exciting feature. Now your kids can keep in touch with friends who’ve moved away as if they still lived next door to each other. They can call home from college without paying long-distance charges – and since they’re already on Facebook anyway, they may be more likely to stay in touch.
However, as with any new technology Facebook video chat is subject to the obvious forms of abuse. Adding a video feature to the social network where your children and their peers already hang out opens the door for ramped-up video sexting (instead of just pictures) or your child becoming a target of even more in-your-face cyberbullying or sexual harassment.
Ask your teen today if they know about or are interested in Facebook video chat, and whether their friends use it. Talk about your expected guidelines for use of this feature before it becomes an issue, and as always, monitor their use on a regular basis.
Facebook’s New Video Chat Feature by Tim Woda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.