While nothing tops face-to-face interactions, technology can be an excellent tool for keeping remote family and friends connected.

Many people rely on video chat software such as Facetime and Skype to see their loved ones. While some people are lucky enough to live close to family and can see them in person whenever they would like, other’s circumstances don’t allow that.

It can be challenging to be far away from family, but technology can help ease the pain of long-distance.

There are extensions for your browser that allows remote friends to watch movies together on Netflix, YouTube or Hulu. The extension will enable you to play the video at the same time and video chat while you stream. This way, you can discuss and critique your favorite movies and television shows as you would in person.

Grandparents and parents can even read books to their children virtually. Updated Portal, Facebook’s new video-calling device, uses an artificial intelligence smart camera to add to the storytime experience.

The Story Time setting feature allows the narrator to appear on-screen as well as music, animation, and special effects that help tell the story.

United Through Reading is a nonprofit that aims to help military families who are separated feel closer with reading. Military parents can record themselves reading a book out loud for their children to listen to. This fantastic technology helps give back a little bit of normalcy to military member’s children during playtime and bedtime.

There are many unique ways to go above and beyond a text message or phone call. Long-distance couples can get creative and use bracelets that buzz or lamps that light up when you touch them, to show the other partner that they are thinking of them.

Let’s not forgot our furry family members. Being away from our pets isn’t easy, either. Smart camera systems allow you to check in on your pet while you are away from home.

On some devices, you can even click a button on the app to throw them a treat through a dispenser. These devices are an excellent tool for running errands, but also helpful for children who are away from home and miss their dog or cat.

As more people migrate away from their hometowns and take on new surroundings, technology serves as a staple in keeping everyone connected to family and friends. We’ve come a long way since a traditional phone call, and these new devices can help make us feel closer to the people we can’t always see.

Michael Cole is the general manager of Hargray.