You’ve heard of Google Hangouts. It’s a lot like using Skype only you use your Google account (with the help of your computer camera) to connect face to face with friends and family. But what about Google Helpouts?
Google Helpouts uses the same concept but connects people who need tips or advice with experts that are qualified to give it — all via live video. For parents, this means questions related to breastfeeding, healthy cooking, prenatal yoga, family budgeting, life coaching and more can be handled by a real-life pro with expertise in that area.
How It Works
No need to pack the diaper bag, load the kids into the car and fight for parking, only to find out you left the stroller in the garage. You can get the help you need while still in your pajamas from the comfort of your own couch. First log on and search Google Helpouts’ list of experts under the Parenting 101 hub. For instance if you’re having issues with a fussy baby and are wondering if something in your breast milk is the cause, you can connect with certified lactation consultant, Sandra Davis. Go ahead and bring the baby into the mix; she can also help you with anything from breastfeeding positions to infant latch issues.
Next, set up an appointment to speak with your chosen expert, who will answer your questions in real time. You can connect via your computer or Android phone. If using your smartphone, you’ll need to download the Google Helpouts app first. Bummer alert: Google Helpouts is not available for the iPhone.
Pricing varies. Experts either charge by the minute or per Helpouts session. For instance, Sandra Davis mentioned above charges $1 per minute. Some Helpouts are free, such as the Free Counseling to Military: Family Therapy and Trauma Specialist. So be sure to price out help before settling on an expert.
Wondering how these experts are vetted? We did, too. Google vets each Helpouts provider face to face, and many were personally recruited based on their expertise. In each Helpouts listing you can read about the provider’s qualifications, including his or her certification details, relevant degrees and training history.
What We Like
It’s fairly easy to sift through experts and find what you are looking for. You can even watch the expert introduce themselves in a short video. Seeing them talk about their craft really helps you make an informed decision on which expert you can relate to the most.
Payment is easy via Google Wallet, credit card or PayPal.
The “Needs Some Work”
Right now, there are only a handful of experts in the Parenting 101 hub, but they are always adding more experts, and are taking suggestions. So, hey, Google, how about pediatric dieticians, allergy specialists or home organization experts?
Since Google Helpouts was created just a few months ago, there aren’t many reviews from users. More reviews would offer yet another way to make an informed decision on choosing an expert.
Also, it would be great to have experts help out during later times in the evening. A 10 p.m. appointment would really help a mom who has her hands full during regular business hours. Do you agree?
If you’re curious and want to learn more, check out Google Helpouts online at helpouts.google.com. Prices vary.
What do you think about this new live chat service? Would you try it for a quick fix, or look for help elsewhere? Let us know in the Comments section below.
— Christina Fiedler