Internet visitation for parents separated from their children by distance has gained increasing popularity over the last decade.
It began with more expensive add-on web cameras, which required advanced technical hardware and software knowledge to hook up and make work.
But now the options have expanded and simplified.
Many cellular phones come standard with built-in video cameras today.
Internet telephone services offer video phone conferencing. Even online chat applications and text messaging often feature video now.
In short, video communications are now readily accessible to many, many ordinary Americans, often without special equipment or specialized technical knowledge.
Making internet timesharing better, easier and cheaper than ever before.
Which is why more and more states are recognizing it, approving agreements for it and even providing a statutory and/or case law framework for ordering it.
And, despite closer scrutiny of parental relocation in many states, with the recession and weak job market persisting, virtual timesharing is here to stay.
Besides making long distance visitation possible, at least in some cases, internet visitation adds a meaningful dimension to ordinary phone conversations .. and has resulted in longer-lasting phone contact.
But opponents of virtual visitation fear that its availability may encourage courts to allow relocation more freely.