Stumped about what to get for your favorite grandparent for Christmas, Hanuka or a birthday? Whether you are searching for the perfect gift for a new Grammy or for seasoned grandparents, here is an idea that will bring grandparents closer to their grandchildren. It help them learn to Skype or FaceTime and make video chats more fun.
100+Fun Activities For Skype With Children is a simple to read book chock full of ways to improve video calls with infants, toddlers and school age children. Find it on Amazon.
If you are using a tablet or phone to Skype or FaceTime try using a stand, mount or holder to enjoy being hands-free. When I shared with my friend Kathy that I talked, read and
played with my grandchildren on Skype she was amazed. If you are using a desk top computer or laptop on a desk it’s not a problem being hands-free. For tablets and phones innovative stands, mounts and holders can make video chat easier and more fun. Think about puppet shows, showing pictures in a book that you are reading, and teaching a child to knit while using your tablet.
There are tablets like the Microsoft Surface Pro computer that have the stand built in. Stands for your existing tablet or phone are also available in many sizes, and in a variety of materials and prices. Finding a stand that works for you is a snap. There are reviews of these products online to help you make a decision that is best for you. Here are some choices that you may want to explore.
Stands, mounts & holders vary greatly in price from $7.99 to over $300. At the top of the price range is a beautifully designed and sturdy, adjustable, bed and floor model by Flote.
Archeer is company that sells stands starting at $7.99.
If you want to look at a variety of stands & holders from other companies search tablet stands on Amazon or check your local Staples, Best Buy or Target for other options.
Enjoy your next video chat hands-free and imagine the possibilities.
Contact me and share your video call ideas www.videocallwithkids.com
If the teens you want to stay in touch with are reluctant to communicate try Skype or FaceTime. My friend Barbara recently told me that her teen grandchildren were communicating less often than when they were younger. Then she discovered Skype and began to enjoy the video chats so much more than telephone calls. Being able to see expressions and changes as children grow – and grow up – is a precious gift. With video chats parents and grandparents who are separated from their children can continue to play an important role in providing guidance to teens if they continue to be available to communicate on tough issues.
In my book Learn To Video Call With Children I provide examples of open-ended questions that will get more than a yes or no answer. The questions are appropriate for all ages, including teens. Some examples are: Can you tell me what you know about that? What is the best thing that happened today? What is the worst thing that happened? What do you think you should have done?
Growing up isn’t easy. Many teens assume that parents and grandparents don’t understand them – and sometimes we don’t. It is not unusual to experience a disconnect with teens. Some key points that you can consider when video calling with teens:
1. Listen and try to understand without confronting, even if you disagree.
2. Keep your comments short and don’t lecture.
3. Ask questions to explore thoughts & behaviors before making assumptions.
4. Be willing to praise rather than criticize.
Here are some webpages with other suggestions:
Send me some of your favorite stories about communicating with teens using video call.
Did you know that Skype group calls are now free for all members? In the past a Premium Skype Membership was needed to make group calls so this is exciting. All Skype members can now make calls to more than one contact at the same time. While you are on a video call you just add another contact for a group call. Select the group icon; a list of contacts will appear. From the contacts tab, click and hold on the contact that you want to add to your group call and drag that contact to your group space. Repeat the process for all you want to include in the group. All contacts must be signed in to Skype to be added.
You can also set up a family or friends group in advance of your call by clicking on the Group icon and selecting the group members from your contacts. Skype recommends that for the best quality, add no more than five others to your call, although a total of ten users is possible. There are alternate ways to create a group so your might take a look at different options at www.support.skype.com and select the process that works best for you.
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Skype has great support for users and it’s easy to find answers to your questions on their site. When you sign on just select Help at the top of the screen and then select Go to Support. Right at the top of the page is a large search window. Just type in your question and click on the magnifying glass on the right, or hit enter to search for an answer. You can also look for answers below the search box where you will find three columns. The first helps you to search through frequently asked questions – FAQ. The second offers How to Guides and the third column has articles about what’s new in Skype.
Scroll down to the bottom of the support screen and you will see a list of many topics that might be of interest to you. As I teach others to use Skype I often come across questions about features that I have not used myself. I can find the answers here about using Skype for messaging, connecting to Facebook, using different devices and much more………..
Recently Skype has added video instructions which is most helpful for those of us who are visual learners. They are short and specific to the topic and I highly recommend you try them. You can find these videos for a variety of topics in the support section. It took me a while to locate them until I noticed a link in the Community bar on the left of the support page. You can also find them without signing into your Skype account by going to: skype.com/essentials . Right now I am finding videos for windows and not Mac products. There are however, many guides for Mac products in the FAQ section.
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Preschool children are on the go, running, climbing, and jumping. Their attention span is often short. Don’t expect a two year old to stay in front of a web cam for very long. Some of the best video calls at this age happen when the parent can position the computer so the web cam scans a large area of the room. Watch the child select toys to play with.
Parents can encourage interaction by suggesting the child show the caller a favorite toy. Often children will come smiling toward the computer to let you see what they have. Cars, trucks, pull toys, dolls, dress up clothes and costumes are all enjoyed at this age and can be shared with the caller.
Don’t be surprised if you preschooler decides that they don’t want to participate in a video call at all some days. Enjoy chatting with parents or siblings and the reluctant participant may just saunter back to participate when they are ready. I have discovered that even on a day when a youngster is reluctant to interact he usually comes back to wave goodbye and throw some kisses my way.
Share stories with children or grandchildren on Skype no matter how far away you are. Reading to children on Skype or Face Time demonstrates your enthusiasm for reading and can encourage a child to read and love books. When reading to children during a video call try using different voices for different characters or props to attract interest. Hold the book page close to the webcam after reading each page so the child can clearly see the pictures. Read poems and stories, and for older children, try newspaper or magazine articles.
Take a look at Pam Allyn’s book What to Read When for an extensive annotated list of more than three hundred book titles for children from birth to ten years. One of my grandson’s favorite books to read with me is Dinosaur. It has three sound buttons, stegosaurus’s sound, the sound of his stomping as he tries to find his friend Frog and the sound that Frog makes.
Sending a book that you have on Skype or Face Time to the child is a special gift.
If you have a favorite book to read on Skype contact me and let us know.
Communicating with children is sometimes a challenge, particularly when you are separated. Recently my friend Barbara told me that she sometimes found it difficult to find topics to talk with her grandchildren about while on Skype. Parents or grandparents can quickly learn to ask questions that will encourage conversation and get more than just a yes or no answer. In our family a favorite question is:
What was the best thing that happened today?
The following are ten basic questions that might help you get started during a video call:
1. I heard that you had a great day today – can you tell me about it?
2. I heard that you had a rough day today – can you tell me about it?
3. What do you think you should have done?
4. What will you do next time?
5. What happened next?
6. What do you like to do after school?
7. I see you have a new haircut, new shirt, lost tooth….tell me about that?
8. I feel sad about that; how do you feel?
9. Can you tell me about your dog?
10. And then what happened?
Don’t hesitate to ask children what they would like to talk about or share something that you did in your day. By age 3 many children have a vocabulary of several hundred words and can speak in sentences. Consider teaching a limerick, a song, or reading a poem or book that the child can enjoy. Don’t let the distance be a barrier to finding topics that you can enjoy together.
Contact me and share your video call ideas
One of the features that I really like with the Skype app for video call is that you can make a Skype test call to check the sound of your computer speakers. Once you have signed on to your Skype account find the listing for Echo/Sound Test Service or Skype Test Call in your list of contacts. If you don’t see Echo/Sound Test Service or Skype Test Call in your list of contacts type Echo in the search box right above your contacts and that should bring it up. Once you see the test, double click on the green call button and it will bring up the sound test window.
Click the green call button to start the test. Follow the instruction and you should hear a recording asking you to record a message. Record a short message…as simple as Testing 1-2-3. Once you stop speaking wait a few seconds and the test will play back your message. You will be able to hear and evaluate the quality of the sound. If you hear your own voice you have been successful in setting up your sound equipment. You then can click on the red telephone icon to hang up the test call.
If you have a problem with the sound check out the troubleshooting videos in SKYPE HELP. Select HELP in the menu at the top of the page. This will bring up a page titled Solving Call Quality Problems (Windows Desktop). There are also links on this page for Mac and Linux users. Scroll down the page to find Audio in the list and follow that link to some helpful hints to solve a variety of common audio problems.
Follow these links to for instructions for Linux and Mac:
Skype, FaceTime, Fring, Tango, Movicha are all applications available to make video calls, and there are others. Which Application or app is best for you? Apple’s Macintosh computers offer the application called FaceTime to make video calls to other Mac computers, and to an iPad or iPhone. You need an Apple ID and email address to make video calls using FaceTime. All new apple products come with the FaceTime application already installed so unless you have an older device you will not have to download the FaceTime video call app.
FaceTime has the limitation that it cannot be used to make video call to devices that are not Apple products. Unlike Skype which can be used with most computers, including Apple computers, FaceTime is only compatible with Apple devices. FaceTime is also limited to making calls over Wi-Fi or cellular, this limits where you can make calls. At this time group calls are also not possible with FaceTime. Most FaceTime users agree that it is very easy to use and the video quality is usually great, so FaceTime is a good app for users of Apple Products.
Many computers, that are not Apple products come with the Skype app installed. The big advantage of Skype is that you can call any computer with Skype including Apple computers. If you don’t have Skype installed you can quickly download the app to your computer or telephone by going to www.skype.com. Be sure that you are on the official Skype website when downloading this app.
Another advantage of Skype is that you can make group calls. While on a video call with any contact, you can add another contact-Skype says up to ten contacts. This is an especially nice feature when
celebrating holidays and other special occasions with family members that are in several different locations. Skype requires that you have their Premium Membership to make group calls.
Skype, Fring, Tango and Movicha all allow you to make video calls between Apple
and Android devices. When selecting an application to make video calls you need to consider the type of devices – phone, tablet and computer you have, as well as the type
of devices that the people you want to call have.
If all your calls are to other Apple devices FaceTime is fine. However, if you will be calling others who do not have Apple devices you will want to consider Skype or one of the other applications.