Video chatting is a great way for kids to stay in touch – but keep an eye on it

Q: My child wants to video chat with her cousins, but they both live in different states. Is there a program available for three-way video chat?

A: Video chat is a great way for families to connect online and share some personal, face-to-face time across the miles. Skype and iChat are popular programs that allow one-on-one video exchanges. Now, there are other options for families and friends who want to gather together online and share some face time:

Tokbox is a Web-based program that lets you video chat with between two and 20 people and import your contacts from sources like Yahoo, Facebook or e-mail. You can also promote your call on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. And you can text chat during the call, share video and also photos. The best part? It’s free!

The browser-basedTinychat chat system allows you to create your own video chat room with up to 12 audio/video chat participants. It’s free, simple and also lets you connect your friends and family through your Facebook, Twitter or a MySpace account.

Attention parents: You should set up the chats. There are plenty of video chat rooms and programs online that are not appropriate for kids. Require that all video chats be conducted in a main area of the home. Monitor all chats when children under 10 are participating.

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