by Alex A. Kecskes
While university students savor the sweet taste of freedom, far away from their folks, video chatting has made it easier for parents to continue to see their children's faces, check out their dorm rooms, meet their roommates, and stay more involved—much to their children's chagrin! Advanced laptop computers, tablets, smartphones and broadband Internet connections make it easier to keep in touch, but video chatting can still be problematic, especially during peak usage times on your student's campus or in your city. Here are a few of our tips on how to make video chatting a possiblity.
When to Chat
The main priority is to find a time that works for your college student's hectic class, homework and social schedules. However, you also want to avoid peak bandwidth-usage hours to enjoy the best possible connection speeds. Peak bandwidth usage occurs between 9 p.m. and midnight, when 65 percent of all fixed-line data traffic across North America is gobbled up by audio- or video-streaming services, according to CNET. So, if possible, schedule your video chat sessions during the early evening, after businesses have closed but before the peak streaming hours begin, to ensure the video and audio of your chat sessions are clear.
Some Internet service providers limit, or "throttle," how much bandwidth you can use during the day, but offer unlimited connection speeds overnight when fewer people are online. Your college student is probably staying up late, so why not set up a video chat session late at night? If you're more of an early riser, try setting up an early-morning session—it's possible your sweet and studious pupil is still up from the night before. Connection speeds are typically faster on the weekends, when fewer individuals are online for business purposes.
Location, Location, Location
The amount of data used for streaming videos, playing games and downloading apps continues to rise, especially on college campuses outfitted with outdated technology. Additionally, bandwidth can vary by geographical area. The best times to video chat in larger cities is during non-prime times when business and recreational use are at a minimum. Conversely, smaller cities and towns will be less affected by usage surges and can better accommodate high-quality video chats at any time during the day. To find out when to carry on a video chat in your area, it's best to contact your Internet provider for more information about data usage rates in your area.
Miss your son or daughter's shining face? Want to be able to see their new home? Set up a video chat session once a week to keep in touch. With the right equipment and a good routine in place that fits both of your schedules and your area's optimal bandwidth hours, you shouldn't experience any hiccups and can focus solely on catching up with your son or daughter.