"I don't think either of them thought that the video thing was all that strange," said Avery's mother, Nancy Friedman, who recently blogged about her son's video playdates."He really truly refers to him as 'my friend.'" Avery, who loves Pokemon cards about as much as anything, said he has nearly as much fun playing the game -- making up rules along the way -- through a video camera as he does on the playground at school recess.While it's somewhat common for young children to conduct online video chats with adult family members, the idea of kids playing with each other via remote conferencing on laptops and TVs appears to be new, and hasn't gained mainstream acceptance yet.
(CNN) -- At first, Ella didn't really understand Skype. "She knows the noise the computer makes when Mimi and Papa are calling," she said.
Back then, Ella would do silly things like try to hand her grandmother stickers through the computer screen during video chats, says her mother, Robin Riggs. She understands now that her grandparents are five hours away, looking at her through a webcam, Riggs said.
Once such tools become available, she expects the idea to take off quickly. Avery, a 10-year-old in New York City, occasionally plays Pokemon cards through video conferencing with a friend in Australia, who he's never met except on the internet.
His online buddy is the son of one of his mom's best friends.
Young kids don't always understand how the cameras work.
They sometimes veer out of the screen without warning, confusing their digital pals.
Carrington Mc Dowell-Walsh, an 11-year-old who lives in Los Angeles, California, said she goes on Skype to gossip while she's browsing the internet. "The people I Skype with, normally I don't see them at all anymore. I would prefer to 'see them' see them," she said, "but I don't otherwise." Laurie Zelinger, a Ph. child psychologist, said video playdates offer a good alternative to real-world play if a kid is sick, or doesn't have friends in the neighborhood.
But she cautioned against parents thinking of it as a replacement for face-to-face playdates, which are more valuable for kids, she said.
Those interactions are much richer than playing video games with set rules or watching TV, she said. but we know that the best thing for a child to have is verbal interaction with other people because that allows them to practice social skills, like negotiation," she said.
Yarosh said she expects video playdate products -- like cameras for the Xbox or the Wii -- to start showing up on the market relatively soon.
"The intensity [of the game] at recess is a little bigger because you have a short amount of time.