The other day I was sprawled out in the playroom while my kids played around me. Big T was listening to Wheels on the Bus for the 100th time on my iPad, and Lil’ J was dancing around trying to figure out what to do next when I got an idea.
I called her over and told her to bring the globe.
“Do you remember where Texas is?” I asked her. She pointed to it on the globe and smiled when I told her she was right.
I opened up the Periscope app, showed her the map, zoomed in on the U.S. and asked her to find Texas again.
We saw several red dots indicating people were live broadcasting and we could watch. We clicked on a video of a couple walking around Barton Creek in Austin, and some girls playing piano and singing in their home.
Lil’ J was curious and as she’d ask questions I’d relay them to the people broadcasting on the chat screen.
I downloaded the app last week and she quickly got familiar with being in front of the camera. People ask her questions (I read them to her) and she responds. But this was a chance for her to be the one asking the questions. And since she always has a ton, it was perfect.
On the globe I asked her to point to a place she wanted to explore. She went straight to Antarctica.
“Let’s see the people who live with the penguins,” she said.
“No baby, people don’t live in Antarctica,” I told her. “How about we look at Alaska?”
A couple of people were broadcasting and we clicked on one where there was a guy just chatting.
When he saw that we had joined the room he asked what the name “BabyMakingMachine” was all about. I made a brief mention of my blog being about making memories with our kids, and I was using Periscope with my 4-year-old to learn about different places. Lil’ J perked up when she heard my website name.
“I know!” She said. “He is trying to be like you!”
“No,” I said. “He’s just saying hi to us because he sees that we’re watching.
“He can see us?”
“No, but he sees our name and we can type questions,” I explained. “Do you have any questions about Alaska? What do you want to ask him?”
Lil J thought for a moment then asked “What kind of animals are in Alaska?”
I typed our question into the chat box, and waited for his answer.
“Well,” the gentleman started, and he turned his phone around so we could see his front yard. “I once saw a moose come through those trees right into my front yard. It was about eight to ten feet tall.”
Lil’ J’s eyes got big with amusement. She forgot he couldn’t hear her and asked “Were you scared?”
I typed her question onto the screen.
“No, if you stay away they won’t hurt you,” he answered. “But some people try to get behind them or even pet them and that’s when they get hurt.”
He went on about other animals like bears and big fish he’s seen in the area, and answered our weather questions. After a little bit we thanked him for chatting with us and browsed other parts of the country.
We visited Florida and watched a light show at Disney World, then watched someone on a ride on the Tower of Terror at Disneyland. Lil’ J pointed to Hawaii on the globe and we found someone broadcasting their hike on a mountain.
I’m not always quick to jump on the latest social media trend but what can I say, I’m a social person. So when I heard that there was a new app that allowed people to share a live glimpse of their lives with others, and gave us a way to see and chat with ordinary people around the world I was in.
Add to that the fact that I’ve been a reporter for over a decade, love sharing “news” with others, and asking strangers tons of questions, and this is my heaven.
Little did I know it would also be a tool for me to teach my kids geography, travel from our living room, and give my kids a glimpse of the world.
Lil’ J is already getting into it. She loves when she does a broadcast and see the hearts fly. She likes to answer questions, and with my help, ask them to strangers.
There are still a few things I’m trying to figure out. For one, every time I start loading a live stream I have a moment of panic being worried that someone on the other end won’t be doing what they say they are. I’m not sure how it’s monitored, so so far I try to pre-screen it a little before turning sharing the screen with my daughter.
Next, I can’t stand how all of the video is vertical. I’m getting used to it, it’s easier to just go along with it and read the comments by holding the screen vertical, but I save our videos and some of these moments may be fun to edit into an “end of year” movie later. And I know it’s going to drive me nuts having a bunch of vertical video. Hopefully there will be an app update on that soon.
Other than that, we’re having a blast. It could be a fun one to use with your kids, or on your own. I recommend saving your own broadcasts, especially if you don’t otherwise record much of your lives. It could be easy to grab footage from later for a recap of your year. If you’re concerned about storage space just email the video to yourself (after initially saving it to your camera roll) then delete it off your phone.
I’m all about preserving the memories but this app so far seems more about just having fun and exploring.
If you have a really cool broadcast I’d save it. But don’t feel like you need to save every little one. I’m trying to get into the habit of just downloading my favorites. Others users can catch your replays for 24 hours. I believe you can keep watching them for 5 more days, then they’re removed from the app.
It’s been fun having the world in our hands. I’m excited to tour more of the world with my daughter, and eventually my son too. Casually interviewing people who live in other countries and towns isa great way to learn about other cultures. It’s such an important practice I want my multiracial kids to follow. And it’ll be fun to share a bit about our lives along the way too.
Look for us if you sign up. It’s free on Android and iOs devices. Just look for us under “BabyMakingMachine.” Oh wait… I think this is our link! And if you’re on it already let us know your username so we can follow along!
Have you tried Periscope? What do you think from what you’ve seen?
~Lil’ J is curently 4yrs 11 months old