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High Tech Parenting Gadgets

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Updated November 25, 2013

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Internet Phone and Chats with Webcams
The whole family can use a webcam and the internet to chat with friends and family members.

The whole family can use a webcam and the internet to chat and keep in touch with long distance friends and family members.

Photo: Andreas Pollok / Getty Images

One of the more useful things a high-tech parent can do is get a high-speed internet connection and then use that to help their children communicate with other families easily and cheaply.

For example, you can install Skype on your computer and make calls to other Skype users anywhere in the world free of charge.

If you have a webcam, you can even have a free video chat with friends and family members on the internet. This is a great way for kids to stay in frequent touch with grandparents and other family members who don't live nearby. It is also great to use when a parent is traveling.

Internet Phones in an Emergency

In addition to a service like Skype, some parents are considering saving money by canceling their landline phone and only having an internet phone service, like Vonage, or a cell phone. Although this is typically less expensive and very high tech, keep in mind that this usually doesn't offer the best protection if you ever have an emergency and need to call 911.

Without a landline phone, if you have to call 911, consider that:

  • some customers will have to rely on the Vonage national emergency call center pass on their call to their local 911 center
  • you won't be able to call 911 at all with an internet phone if your power is out or internet connection goes down
  • dialing 911 with a cell phone is much less reliable than a landline, since many calls aren't routed to the local 911 center and they may not have your phone number or other contact information when they get the call

So while giving up your home phone line might sound like a good way to save money, you might keep a basic line in case of an emergency.

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