To expect my in-laws to be able to use Skype?

(41 Posts)
ConfusedKiwi Tue 20-Nov-12 22:48:51

We are currently living in NZ, in-laws are in UK. They want to Skype us every weekend (although usually ends up every fortnight) to see my ds. That's great - when we were in the UK we did the reverse with my family and the time difference generally works out pretty well.

However, they seem to struggle to use it even though before we left we gave them instructions, my sister in-law has sat with them and talked it through numerous times and we advise them nearly every call. I realise they are not as familiar with laptops and the internet as my generation (although my family, including my mum who is a bit of a technophobe managed it).

1) They never turn on the video at their end until we remind them.
2) They set it up virtually every time with a bright light directly behind my MIL so you can't actually see her face (not very engaging for a 2 yr old).
3) They set it up so that they aren't sitting together and then attempt to swing the camera back and forth.
4) They don't seem to be aware that they go out of shot frequently when they lean forward (again, a 2 yr old isn't particularly interested in talking/responding to a random voice).

Finally, and I expect this is unreasonable, my MIL doesn't 'do' anything, she just sits and watches. At least my FIL attempts to play games (e.g. if 2 yr old points at screen he reacts).

The above would probably be fine if they only expected say 10 minutes but they want to skype for a lot longer but trying to get a 2 yr old to stay and interact (or even stay in the room) is impossible when he can't see them and my MIL just sits there half out of shot in silhouette.

They are coming out for 10 weeks from just before xmas (when dc2 is due) and I am dreading the fact that my MIL will not interact with ds but will complain that he doesn't like her... as she did when he was a very wriggly baby and cried if she just tried to hold him still. Unfortunately due to health issues she is less mobile than average for her age which is part of the problem but she also has very high expectations of him and I am worried she is going to be disappointed (and vocally complain) when he wants to play with Grandad or others instead of her.

Oh well, at least we can try and coach them in Skype again when they are here and it might improve things once they are back in UK...

skyatnight Tue 20-Nov-12 23:21:02

YANBU. The technical stuff is not rocket science, pretty simple. Skype is so useful. It really helps with phone calls if small children can see who they are talking to. But the grown-ups have to make a bit of an effort and have something engaging to say to the children, something to show them or make them laugh. I even go so far as to suggest topics of conversation in advance to some relatives so that they can ask my child about her school play or whatever. So NBU but it sounds like there are other issues there as well so you might have to talk some things through with your in-laws.

SwedishEdith Tue 20-Nov-12 23:38:43

How old are they?

oldnewmummy Tue 20-Nov-12 23:42:31

We got my parents an iPod touch and we use FaceTime. There's no way in hell they'd have managed Skype. They're 75 and 77.

Fakebook Tue 20-Nov-12 23:42:41

I think you're being a bit unreasonable. It's not their fault they can't get the hang of it. You can't teach an old dog new tricks comes to mind. My dad doesn't have a clue about messaging and the Internet. It's not their fault they're old and can't remember things.

Bunbaker Tue 20-Nov-12 23:47:55

My MIL thinks that computers are newfangled apparatus and won't have anything to do with them. My late uncle who was older than her was the most technologically advanced member of his family and was a whizz with the internet, emails etc.

Some older generation people view new technology with suspicion and tell themselves they will never get the hang of it and some embrace it as a useful tool.

I think you will have to allow that your in-laws probably belong in the same camp as MIL, but at least they are trying.

Pandemoniaa Tue 20-Nov-12 23:52:08

It may be that they are quite capable of using Skype. What they may not be is as capable of meeting your rather prescriptive expectations of them. Perhaps when they visit it might be helpful for you to give them a technical rehearsal or two? Or at least explain, in person, some of the things you feel they are failing to grasp and provide practical and helpful suggestions to overcome them.

purplewithred Tue 20-Nov-12 23:53:02

My In laws Skype their siblings regularly. The whole family are aged 75 to 85. The lure for them was that it is FREE! They still think of long distance phone calls as something just for emergencies and Christmas.

Sounds like the problem is more with your mils inability to engage with your dc than their ability to handle Skype.

MumofWombat Tue 20-Nov-12 23:57:06

We FaceTime now, it actually seems to be clearer. My parents are in the UK and we are in Oz. DS 19 months definitely has a relationship with my parents, but they chat to him, and he yabbas back, they play beepo and sing songs like 'head shoulders knees and toes'. He wont sit there the whole time, but then when he does run back to his toys, i get to chat! They'll be over next in March for DC2s arrival, in fact they will look after DS whilst I'm in hospital. My father has mobility issues, but he gets involved. In fact if we all go out somewhere DS clambers to be allowed to sit with Grandad on the mobility scooter!
Long distance grandparent relationships aren't easy, I think a bit more work has to go into it.

Longdistance Wed 21-Nov-12 00:18:38

Yabu. My parents are 76 and 71, and they
have to have my db present when Skyping, as they cannot operate a pc.
We live in Oz and do Skype weekly on a Sunday, and when my db is not around they don't get to see dd's, but do phone.
It's not rocket science to us, but for my parents it is.

Bunbaker Wed 21-Nov-12 00:21:12

We don't own any Apple products so we can't use FaceTime. I agree that the video quality on Skype is pretty poor, and we don't have a low spec webcam either.

OH travels to the Far East regularly so we use Skype when he is away.

ConfusedKiwi Wed 21-Nov-12 07:35:22

Okay, agree I'm being unreasonable. My MIL is only 63 (same as my mum) and my FIL a little older but for me it is second nature so just hard to adjust my expectations.

I think we will need to try and give them some more lessons while here but is anyone aware of a good resource to direct them to with basic guidelines (which would cover the how to set up the lighting/camera)? Ideally avoiding anything titled idiots/dummies guide...

EMS23 Wed 21-Nov-12 07:41:44

Buy them and you an IPAD. FaceTime is so much better and has been a life changer for my parents. They couldn't get on with Skype, plus it's crap anyway.

It obviously means a lot to you so will be worth the expense.

Megatron Wed 21-Nov-12 07:46:46

I think you're being unfair. Just because you find it easy doesn't mean that they do, regardless of their age. Maybe you sound a bit narky with them because they are not doing things the way you want them to and it's making them uneasy? That won't help either I guess.

Gigondas Wed 21-Nov-12 07:49:46

I am ok with most kind of tech but I don't find Skype that easy as it quite often fails to log etc. also small children even on Skype/facetime have short attention spans (no matter what people at other end are doing or where the camera/light is) so it's unrealistic to expect a longish call.

MrsCantSayAnything Wed 21-Nov-12 07:50:29

Yabu. My inlaws are the same, as would I be if i had to do something new.

mumblechum1 Wed 21-Nov-12 07:51:00

Agree about just buying a couple of iPads if it solves the problem.

I've only used Skype once and it was a total pain, kept going on and off, and I use computers all day every day. For someone who maybe only uses computers for a few minutes, once a week, Skype is probably quite tricky.

CailinDana Wed 21-Nov-12 07:52:02

My mother is in a very responsible job, is only 57 and cannot use Skype for love nor money despite my sister explaining it to her about 4,000 times. It is extremely annoying. Similarly when I lived at home I had to help her check her email every single day for a year. That's 365 times I explained it to her before it went in. How I didn't kill her I don't know.

If your MIL complains about your DS then ask your DH to have a word to her about it.

ivykaty44 Wed 21-Nov-12 07:56:06

my dad skypes his mate in Australia all the time and visa versa - i often pop to his house and find him having a coffee with his mate from school, they are 73 and do it fine by themselves.

I think it has more to do with whether they want to do it than their age, it is to do with learning something new and the persons aptitude and wanting to learn that particular new trick

LottieJenkins Wed 21-Nov-12 08:02:05

Skype is brilliant for deaf people! Wilf and I skype every day. Every evening at 6.29pm i get a text saying "skype please Mumma!!"!!! grin

Bunbaker Wed 21-Nov-12 08:04:18

"I think it has more to do with whether they want to do it than their age, it is to do with learning something new and the persons aptitude and wanting to learn that particular new trick"

I agree ivykaty44

EMS23 Wed 21-Nov-12 08:05:41

ivykaty - I think that's unfair. It can be really hard to learn how to do something, no matter how much you want to.
Computers are a mystery to lots of people, especially people that didn't grow up with them as part of everyday life.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Wed 21-Nov-12 08:08:31

No, I wouldn't have a "technical rehearsal" or lessons anything of the sort. It sounds incredibly passive-aggressive. The whole point is supposed to be that Skype is easy and unthreatening to use, you're only going to put them off even more if you make it a big deal that they're not doing everything right 100% of the time.

Nearly all the problems you mention can be fixed quickly while you're on the call - ie, you can tell them to turn the video on, sit together, turn a lamp off etc. Is this really so much trouble for you? It takes seconds.

The only serious problem is that they don't seem to understand (your MiL in particular) that it's a video phone call. Their learned behaviour with screens is to watch them, not interact with them. If you made the phone call comparison more explicitly they might get how they're supposed to behave - they wouldn't expect to call somebody on the phone and just sit there in companionable silence.

Although, if she doesn't interact with your DS in real life anyway then her problem isn't really Skype, is it. Is that what you're really annoyed about?

NoraGainesborough Wed 21-Nov-12 08:13:53

My ils had a LAPTOP and had 6 months before they realised it could be unplugged from a power source and placed on your LAP. They looked horrifies when dh was showing them something, unplugged it and put it in the other room. you would think the clue was in the name.
Mil then tried to access her email by typing her email address followed by her password into the text box on google (its not even a google email account).

So while I get your pain, yabu. Some people find it really hard

Alligatorpie Wed 21-Nov-12 08:27:30

I feel your pain. My inlaws do skype, but the first 10 minutes of any conversation is "can you see us, can you hear us?" kind of questions. I don't go near the laptop until that has all been finished! Drives me batty!
Dd1 is often bored talking to them, where as she is engaged by my mom,so likes talking to her on skype. I think the difference is that I skype my mom for the kids, dh Skypes his parents for him - so dd is bored by the conversation.

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