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High travel costs and busy work schedules will make itincreasingly difficult for people to make it home to see theirfamilies this year, but a growing number are open to using videochat to bridge those distances, according to a recent survey fromooVoo.

Seven out of 10 survey respondents say something is likely toprevent them from seeing their loved ones this holiday season. Morethan 60 percent of them say high travel costs would impede theirholiday-travel plans, while 41 percent cite work schedules.

However, all is not lost. Seventy-one percent of theserespondents indicate that they’d be willing to use video chat tolessen the sting of being apart from loved ones during theholidays. To help families stay connected during this time of year,ooVoo is making its multi-person chat available for free thisholiday season. Visit www.ooVoo.com Nov. 19 to 29, 2010, andDec. 17, 2010, to Jan. 2, 2011, to download this feature thatallows for up to six people to participate on the same video callfor as long as they want, at no cost. Current ooVoo users will getthe free upgrade to six-way chat during the holiday promotion.

“I remember the first time I couldn’t make it home for Christmasand my parents were really upset,” said Katie Seager, from EastLansing, Mich. “So I had my younger sister download ooVoo and wasable to open gifts with them that morning. It was cool being there- if virtually – to see their reactions on Christmas morning.”

Video chat is a fun and convenient way to see your family thisholiday season but in what ways? Respondents listed top activitiesthey’d participate in while using services like ooVoo:

* Swap stories (70 percent)

* Open presents together (59 percent)

* Count down to the New Year together (48 percent)

* Sing holiday songs (23 percent)

* Read a holiday story (21 percent)

* Prepare a meal together (20 percent)

* Decorate the house or tree (18 percent)

Other reasons to use video chat this holiday season include:

* Showing off a new engagement ring to family and friends

* Introducing a new kitten or puppy

* Showing off one’s newborn baby to parents and grandparents

In addition to live video conversations, ooVoo allows users torecord and send holiday greetings to anyone with an e-mail account.

And finally, don’t forget your manners while using video chat,and consider these etiquette tips:

* Check your audio and video settings before you start thecall.

* Have everything you need close by so the person on the otherend is not left with a blank screen.

* Ask permission if you want to record the video chat. Privacyis expected until consent is given otherwise.

* Have fun and be yourself. Enjoy the experience of connectingface-to-face with friends and family.