Using HomeTeam™ To Stay Connected To Extended Family

My mom lives about an hour from us, which isn’t very far away. However, with her busy schedule, there are many times she might as well be in another state. It’s often difficult to schedule a time to get together so she can spend time with her granddaughters between our two schedules. So we’re often relying on phone calls for the kids to say hi to their grandmother and let her know what they’ve been up to.

Phone calls can only go so far, though, and my kids aren’t the best at keeping up conversation on the phone. The conversation usually involves my kids answering questions from relatives with short answers, or launching into a monologue about something they saw, and it’s only a few minutes before one party or the other is done talking. And even using Facetime, they can only get five minutes or so out of making silly faces or showing off their latest drawings.

There are over 70M grandparents in the US, and each year 1.7M people become new grandparents. According to the AARP, over half of grandparents in the U.S. live more than 100 miles from their grandchildren; 43 percent live more than 200 miles away. At the same time, Pew Research Center found that the use of communications and social networking services among seniors is skyrocketing. More than 65 percent of U.S. adults ages 50 to 64 were found to be using social networking services in 2014, up from 41 percent in 2009.

I recently had the chance to try out a new app from Panasonic that I’m really excited about. Their HomeTeam™ app was designed with the intent of connecting loved ones across generations and distance, creating shared memories of activities done together with the help of technology.

Not only can you video chat with relatives, but the app contains a library of shared activities you can do together, in real-time. Using a tablet or computer, now grandparents can read a story or play a game with their grandchildren while they talk to each other, even if they live thousands of miles away.

It’s a fairly easy process. The HomeTeam app will be available for tablets and computers. Once you and a family member have the app installed, you can add each other as contacts. Once you’ve accepted each other as contacts, they will appear in your list of contacts. To call someone, press the Connect button, then select the contact you want to call. A ringing phone sound plays for the other person, letting them know you’re calling.

HomeTeam app

Once you’re connected, you’re in full video mode. A small box in the upper left corner shows what your camera is recording, while the remainder of the screen is your friend or family member. There’s a menu that can be brought up on the bottom of the screen, letting you mute the call, end the call, or choose from books or games to share together.

HomeTeam menuMira and Aaron testing out the app.

The books range for all ages, with something for the smallest child to the most advanced reader. The games include easy-to-learn games like tic-tac-toe, plus more complex games like chess. (Be warned, depending on the skill levels, that could be a LONG call!) When playing games or reading books, the majority of the screen is the game or book, but the two video windows remain open on the left side.

HomeTeam tic-tac-toe

I wish something like this would have been around when my kids were younger. My mom liked reading stories to them before they could read very well, and we could have used this to share a bedtime story once or twice a week. Now that Cordy has learned to play chess, though, this app has widened the number of opponents for her to face off against.

I like that this app gives the kids a shared experience with family and friends, rather than just a call. The books or games give them something to talk about, and they have fun while creating memories together.

The HomeTeam app will be available in the App Store and Google Play on 3/24/15. New users will be able to sample the entire HomeTeam experience, including unlimited access to content and all features free of charge for 30 days. After that, a premium subscription for continued access to unlimited content is available by month ($8.99/mo) and by year ($89.99/yr).

Giveaway!

Which feature of HomeTeam™ are you most excited to use? Tell me in the comments for a chance to win a $100 VISA gift card.

Entry Instructions:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 4/15/2015 – 5/17/2015

Be sure to visit the Panasonic HomeTeam brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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Comments

  1. I would like the game feature so my kids could play games with relatives they don’t get to see much.

  2. Jessa Gillis says:

    I would love for my mom and daughter to play games together.

  3. I am excited to use the game feature

  4. Julie Wood says:

    I like that the Panasonic HomeTeam app lets me stay in touch with far away Grandparents and other family members and interact and play games with Grandma and Dad or Mom! Also the reading and playing games app is cool and the best features!

  5. Julie Wood says:
  6. Mami2jcn says:

    My daughter would enjoy the Curious George matching game.

  7. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet–https://twitter.com/mami2jcn/status/588442478367277056

  8. I love that you can read books together just like you would in person. That is my favorite feature! My nephew would love the interactive games feature.

  9. The HomeTeam feature that I am most excited to try is playing games with friends and family who live far away.

  10. This would be great for my kids when my husband is gone with the military.
    chambanachik(at)gmail(dot)com
    Erika recently posted…A Legacy of MomentsMy Profile

  11. Madeline says:

    I like the feature where you read stories together. Playing games is always fun, but I’d prefer to do that in person. Reading stories is so important for little ones though, so any extra time you spend doing this with your children or grandchildren is just wonderful and educational.

  12. Madeline Brubaker says:

    Tweet link: https://twitter.com/shala_darkstone/status/589611725261012992
    madelinebrubaker {at} gmail [dot] com

  13. Jessie C. says:

    I would love to use the interactive games feature with my family.
    tcarolinep at gmail dot com

  14. Jessie C. says:

    -https://twitter.com/tcarolinep/status/589984134833033216

  15. Lisa Brown says:

    The feature we would like the best is playing games with friends and family who live far away.

  16. Lisa Brown says:
  17. steve weber says:

    I like the interactive gaming feature the best.

  18. I like that you can pick a book from their library and read it aloud and have storytime over the computer as if you were face to face. I am most excited to try that feature out.

  19. the games sound fun

  20. https://twitter.com/OneFrugalGirl/status/590537247021211648
    onefrugalgirl AT gmail DOT com
    OFG recently posted…Letting GoMy Profile

  21. The ability for grandparents to interact with grandchildren remotely!
    OFG recently posted…Letting GoMy Profile

  22. The game feature is the one i like the most, very cool so my kids could play games and connect with family anywhere.

  23. Leigh Anne Borders says:
  24. Leigh Anne Borders says:

    With family stretched across the US, it is neat to think of this as a way to connect them.

  25. i like the Unlimited video chat.

  26. Kimmy Ripley says:

    I would really love the popular children’s books for my daughter.

  27. Anna Pry says:

    we would love using the video chat with our family in other states pryfamily5@gmail.com

  28. Anna Pry says:
  29. Claudia McGee says:

    i would love to read to my Grandson Overseas and chat with family and friends !

    cdm65atcox.net

  30. Claudia McGee says:
  31. maria cantu says:

    I like the unlimited video chat.

  32. My mom would love using the reading aspect for her grandkids.

  33. Heather S says:

    I love the interactive games feature the most, my family would LOVE it! 🙂

  34. Heather S says:
  35. ELIZABETH P says:

    I am most excited to use the games feature with my grandparents who are far away from the kids. truckredford(at)gmail(dot)com

  36. ELIZABETH P says:
  37. Samantha Daleo says:

    I love the Video Chat but also the ability to play games together. My whole family lives across the country from us. This would be an awesome way to keep in touch!

  38. Samantha Daleo says:
  39. Gina M says:

    I love that it allows users to read stories together! How cool for grandkids and grandparents that live far away from each other!

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    wildorchid985 AT gmail DOT com

  40. Gina M says:

    TWEET–https://twitter.com/WildOrchid985/status/595172268449357824

  41. My daughter would love to play the tic tac toe game with me! How fun!
    BusyWorkingMama recently posted…Stock Up and Save With P&G at Walmart GiveawayMy Profile

  42. Stephanie Phelps says:

    I am most excited about the book portion. I love to read and I want my kids to enjoy that as well!

  43. Stephanie Phelps says:
  44. Lauren E. says:

    I love the video chat function so my daughter can keep in touch with her grandparents.

  45. ANGEL JACKLYN says:
  46. ANGEL JACKLYN says:

    LOVE THAT YOU CAN CHAT & PLAY GAMES WITH FAMILY FAR AWAY!!

  47. What a great tool and just what I needed to keep the kids stay connected with the grandparents as they live far away. I am excited about the children’s books features as the kids love reading.

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  48. Susan Smith says:

    I love the video chat function, my son would be able to talk to his Grandparents and see them. We don’t live near them so this would be a great way to stay in touch

  49. Susan Smith says:
  50. I think my kids would like the game aspect the best. They love playing online games with people they know!

  51. Kristen says:

    I’d like to try the feature for reading together.

  52. Kristen says:
  53. erica best says:

    i love the games

  54. erica best says:
  55. Rebecca Graham says:

    Would like to try out the interactive game feature.

  56. Aurelie Red says:

    I am most excited to use the games feature with my kids and their grandparents ♥

  57. Aurelie Red says:
  58. jose benavides says:

    What excited me is the game features.

  59. I can’t wait to try the reading feature.

  60. Cynthia C says:

    I am excited about the chance to play games with the kids in my family at times we can’t be together.

  61. Cynthia C says:
  62. Ashley C says:

    I love that you can use it play games and read books no matter where you are. My DH and I both travel some for work and it would be great to be able to interact with the kids when one of is us gone!

  63. Bert Ruiz says:

    I like the interactive games feature

  64. Bert Ruiz says:
  65. PuffyBiggles says:

    I’m most excited about the feature that enables you to play games with others. Thanks for the giveaway!

  66. PuffyBiggles says:
  67. Kathy Pease says:

    I would be excited to try the Unlimited video chat 🙂

  68. Kathy Pease says:
  69. I am most excited to use the interactive games feature
    Sandy Klocinski recently posted…Physical Hunger As opposed to Emotional HungerMy Profile

  70. Lauren Olivia Wood says:

    I am most excited to try the video chat option!

  71. Margaret Smith says:

    I’m excited about the video chat. Having family that lives out of state, this would be great for my kids to keep in touch with their Grandparents. Thanks so much.

  72. I am excited to use the game feature

  73. Stephanie V says:

    fun and engaging multiplayer games looks wonderful! video chat too!
    tvollowitz at aol dot com

  74. Lasonda says:

    I would like to use the game feature.

  75. I love all of them for different reasons but would probably use the video chat feature the most of all of the features.
    angie recently posted…Copyright © 2015 Foto Macro – All Rights ReservedMy Profile

  76. Margaret Smith says:
  77. s riches says:

    My favorite feature is video chatting while playing games with family members.

  78. s riches says:
  79. Denise S says:

    The book reading feature is most exciting to me.

  80. Barbara M says:

    I’m excited about the Real Time Video Chat feature.
    The grand kids and I would have so much fun!
    thank you

  81. Barbara M says:
  82. play games with the distant relatives!

  83. Lisa Garner says:

    I’m most excited about the interactive reading feature.

  84. Lisa Garner says:
  85. mickeyfan says:

    My grands are 3.5 hours away. They love books and I love to read. Video chat, yes please.

  86. Daniel M says:

    like that you can play games together

  87. Lisa V. says:

    I am most excited about the real time chat and am able to help with my granddaughter’s learning experiences.

  88. I love the video chat feature! All of my family lives overseas so this would help my kids stay connected in a fun way.
    Kimberley Meier recently posted…Product Review: Shielo Antioxidant Leave In ProtectantMy Profile

  89. Brenda Elsner says:

    My favorite feature would be the chat.

  90. Playing games with family.

  91. Aaron Shapiro says:

    I like that the video chat lets you be a part of it as well! Thanks for this giveaway!

  92. joe gersch says:

    My favorite feature is the interactive games

  93. Amanda Sakovitz says:

    I’m most excited to video chat!

  94. Amanda Sakovitz says:
  95. Debbie B says:

    my favorite feature is the interactive game feature and the video chat!

  96. Debbie B says:
  97. Stephanie Larison says:

    I’m most excited about the video chat. My girls have grandparents that live far away, so this would be a great way for them to connect and keep in touch.

  98. Stephanie Larison says:
  99. Lisa Boyd says:

    I like the shared activities app

  100. Anastasia Falling says:

    I love that you can connect with your family to play games! What a fun, easy way for the younger kids to keep in touch with the distant relatives. I love that!

  101. I like the reading stories together aspect.

  102. Crystal F says:

    I love that you can play games or read with family that is away while chatting with them. It can help a family stay connected. Thank you!

  103. Definitely the video chat feature!

    happy_haylee_3(at)hotmail.(dot)com

  104. Ellie Wright says:

    I’m most excited about the video chat. My little grandson is very attached to me. This would allow him to see and speak to me when he starts missing me.

  105. Ellie Wright says:
  106. Diane Baum says:

    I love the reading part and that my kids can connect with far away family.

  107. Denise L says:

    I love that my son’s grandpa would be able to read him books from 3 hours away!

  108. I am most excited about relatives being able to play games and read books to my daughter from another location.

    kport207 at gmail dot com
    Kathleen recently posted…Live Infinitely Infusion Water Bottle #Review #liveinfinitely #AdMy Profile

  109. Claudia Davis says:
  110. My family would love the interactive games.

  111. Thomas Murphy says:

    I am most excited to use the interactive games feature!

  112. Thomas Murphy says:
  113. Stephanie Galbraith says:

    I’m excited about the interactive games.

  114. Erica B. says:

    The games are fun.

  115. Angela W says:

    I am most excited about the games

  116. Angela W says:
  117. Elizabeth Owens says:

    I love that you can read books on there. It will save time and space instead of packing a whole bunch of books

    elizzzzzabeth at yahoo dot com

  118. I like the interactive gaming feature.
    austma7@aol.com

  119. Linda G. says:

    My grandson loves to read, I like that we can read together across the miles with this app.

  120. The video chat feature sounds awesome!

  121. CharityS says:

    I like the multi-player game feature.

  122. CharityS says:
  123. Janice Cooper says:

    I love the variety of games and books feature. I also like how you are able to interact with family at a distance.

  124. Janice Cooper says:
  125. Birdiebee says:

    The HomeTeam feature I would be most excited to use is the game feature where I could enjoy some real interaction with my grandkids across the miles.

  126. Birdiebee says:
  127. Tracey byram says:

    I like the games that i could play with my grandchildren

  128. JoAnna Carpentier says:

    I would be most excited for the unlimited video chat, since my family lives far away.

  129. Abby C. says:

    The gaming features

  130. patricia c. says:

    My children would like to play games with their long-distance cousins and read books with their grandparents.

    Quinlan726 (at) aol (dot) com

  131. My mom lives in Cali with 2 of my brothers, my other brother lives in NYC, and I have relatives scattered all across the US (no family with me here in VA). I LOVE the video chat feature, great for staying connected with family and friends out of state, especially for my kids and their grandparents!

  132. Tara O. says:

    I’m most excited about the video chat feature! My daughter misses her Aunt so much and it would be so fun for her to be able to see and talk to her whenever she wants!

  133. The video chat feature is really awesome.

  134. video chat

  135. The feature of the HomeTeam app I am most excited to try is to have my family at my fingertips.

  136. Rosanne Morrison says:

    I like how you can play games like chess

  137. Rosanne Morrison says:
  138. eguiver Yol says:
  139. April V. says:

    I love the idea of playing games online with friends and family that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to spend time with.

  140. Sarah L says:

    I like the ability to read books together while looking at the other person.
    Thanks for the contest.

  141. Sarah L says:
  142. Philip Lawrence says:

    Everyone needs to stay connected with family!

  143. heather s says:

    The game feature looks like a lot of fun

  144. Donna Jacoby says:

    I’m most excited about the video chat. Thank you for the giveaway!

  145. Laurie Emerson says:

    The HomeTeam feature I am most excited about is the being able to read books together when you are separated. This would be perfect for when my husband is deployed with the military and could still read a bedtime story to the kids each night.

  146. Betty C says:

    I always loved reading to my children so the feature I like most is being able to share that experience with my grandchildren who are so far away.

  147. Betty C says:
  148. Most excited about the video chat.

  149. reading a story and playing games!