With so many different ways to communicate over the Internet, family and friends can stay in touch no matter how far apart they may be. These methods are simple and efficient, and anyone can use them.
Sending an email over the Internet is the modern version of sending a first class letter through the post office. It is easy and fast. Not only can users send digital messages, but also pictures and files. Putting contacts in the online address book allows the user to send emails to one person or multiple people at once. Spam blocking features prevent junk mail from piling up in the inbox. Also, the best feature is the ability to link an email account to a mobile phone. The user can then check and send messages from anywhere.
Many providers, such as Yahoo! Mail, Windows’ Hotmail, Google’s Gmail and AOL’s AIM offer free accounts by which to send electronic mail.
Increasing in popularity very quickly, are social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace. These websites allow you to connect with people in a community setting. The user can create groups of friends who share common interests or go to the same school or events. Real-time web allows people to let others on their contact list know where they are and what they are doing at that current moment.
There are also social-networking sites with specific niches. Examples of these are CafeMom, which is a site for mothers to connect and share experiences and support with one another, or DeviantART, where artists get together to swap work and inspiration.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
With VoIP services, the user can make phone calls over the Internet to anywhere in the world. All that is needed is a fast Internet connection and VoIP provider such as Skype or Google Talk. Go to the providers website and download the free application and register. As long as the person receiving the call has the same program running, the user can talk with them at no cost. If both users possess webcams, then they can chat face to face. This is a popular method of communications, especially for users with loved ones overseas.
Instead of sending long emails to multiple people, more and more Internet users are starting to blog, or web log. A blog is an online diary or journal where the user can write and post pictures and video clips. Experience, travel, knowledge and whatever else the user deems important can be the topic of their blog. There are many free services that host blogs including WordPress, Blogger, Livejournal and Tumblr. They offer unlimited bandwidth, unique themes and plenty of space for creativity. Family and friends can read and then comment on the blog if desired.