Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the mission of the Distant Family website?
  2. What makes Distant Family safe and private?
  3. What activities does Distant Family offer users?
  4. How does the login process work?
  5. What does a Subscription offer?
  6. How can we see video and play games at the same time?
  7. Is it only useful when apart from family?
  8. What if I have more questions or comments?

Answers

What is the mission of the Distant Family website?

Distant Family aims to provide fun activities to play with your children when you are far away from them. Distant Family is designed to be safe and isolated from the rest of the Internet. It is intentionally made to NOT have the features of social gaming sites. It has no public lobbies, "friends", strangers, ads to kids, out-bound links or user lists.

What makes Distant Family safe and private?

Distant Family is made safe by three mechanisms:

  1. Industry Standards for Internet Security. All connections to Distant Family are done using TLS/SSL (Transport Layer Security/Security Sockets Layer). This is the https at the start of the web address. SSL ensures no one can read/view anything sent from your browser to the web site. The video connection, between you and your child are also encrypted using the same mechanism.

    Passwords used on the system are "hashed" using the latest recommended methods. This means that passwords cannot be revealed if the database is stolen.

  2. Distant Family features, lack of features, and architecture. Distant Family strives to isolate and hide you and your child's presence on the service. It is impossible for anyone to interact with other users of the service. This is accomplished by only recreating rooms when they are going to be used, and only allowing two users in at a time. A parent creates a room, then sends the room ID and a PIN to the child so that only they can enter.

  3. Network Security. Without going into detail, we run network security software that detects and blocks activities that appear to come from anyone trying to access room in which they were not invited.

What activities does Distant Family offer users?
  • Video chat
  • 2-player kid's games
  • Coloring book
  • Room decorating
  • Fun animation overlays
How does the login process work?
The login process is managed by parents. A parent creates a room and sends the room information to their child using some method outside of the Distant Family web site. Of course a young child isn't home alone. The parent with them is referred to as the "attending parent". Here are the steps:
  1. The distant parent opens a room and is given the room ID and PIN
  2. The distant parent sends the room ID and PIN to the attending parent
  3. The attending parent or child enters the room using the PIN
  4. The playroom opens for both users
There are 4 variations to the steps above. The PIN could be part of the room ID and used as a single web address. For example, the code below will immediately open the room for both users:
https://distant.family/4sie/427
This method is useful for sending the link via another chat service, like Skype, or via email or text message.

The room ID could be entered first, then the code entered when prompted. For example:
https://distant.family/4sie
In the above example, the page would open for the attending parent to enter the PIN in the box provided.

Alternatively to using the PIN, the child or attending parent could snap their picture using the web cam. The distant parent would review the picture and allow them into the room accordingly.

A reserved room subscription offers an even more convenient option. A parent can lock a child's device to their reserved room. This process saves a special cookie on the child's device, allowing only that device direct access to the room after a parent has opened it. No pin is required. Parent's will be offered the option to lock the child's device when they first chat together.

What does a Subscription offer?
Subscriptions primarily offer 3 things:
  • Reserve your room ID. This can be any string of characters, no spaces. This makes it easier for your family to use the room, plus it's just cool to have your own room name instead of a random one each time.
  • The ability to lock a child's device to your reserved room name. This allows easy connections once a parent has opened the room.
  • More reliable network connections and better video quality. Subscriptions help pay network fees and those who subscribe will get priority access and more bandwidth for better quality video connections.


How can we see video and play games at the same time?
Distant Family does not support video chat while playing games. You can still chat over your microphones, but your video will be disconnected during game play. To see each other again, open a Big Chat window from the activity screen. This will close games or activities that you are currently playing.

Is Distant Family only useful when apart from family?
You can use Distant Family even when with your kids. Just use two different computers or Android devices. To avoid audio feedback, we recommend turning off the volume on one of your devices. But besides that, open a chat room and have fun. Even if you are in the same physical space.

What if I have more questions or comments?
Send us a message using our contact form.

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