Skype, FaceTime, Google + and Facebook all have video chat options. It’s important to know that these are designed for adult use. Children need to be protected from internet fraud when using these apps. Danger is lurking as we see children under the age of two who have quickly learned to swipe the face of tablets and phones to gain access.
Vigilance in using and checking the privacy settings on all devices that a child will have access to is the first step. Young children should never use a video chat app without supervision. Discussion with the child about internet safety is also crucial. Accepting a calls from someone not in the child’s contact list can be dangerous – predators often mask as friends. Parents must discuss the importance of never accepting calls from anyone the child does not know. Consider visiting the FBI Online Safety site with your child – click here: https://www.fbi.gov/fun-games/kids/kids-safety.
Skype’s provides this warning and good advice on their website:
Skype’s websites and software are not intended for or designed to attract users under the age of 13. We encourage parents to be involved in the online activities of their children to make sure that no information is collected from a child without parental permission.
We take the safety of Skype end users very seriously and have security measures in place to help protect children, who have appropriate parental permissions to use Skype, from being contacted by strangers. These include:
- Only allowing people in the child’s contact list to contact the child using Skype, including voice and video calls, chat messages and sharing screens.
- Hiding the age, date of birth and gender of children on profile pages, so others cannot see this information.
- Hiding children from search results unless they are returned as an exact match by Skype Name or email.
Important: Our security measures are based on the date of birth provided by the end user when creating a profile, so it is very important to enter the correct information.
FaceTime recommends parents use Settings to turn off the option to use FaceTime and turn it on when a parent is present. For older children who know how to get to the settings you may want to consider a password to protect the device.
Consider a program like Skypito for younger children – click here for more information:
The Intel Security Company also has a guide for keeping video chats safe – click here: https://blogs.mcafee.com/consumer/parents-to-know-video-chat
If safely used video chatting is great for kids. They can stay in contact with a parent who is not home, call grandparents, do homework, and be with friends. Share some of the ways that you keep your children safe online – email@example.com
www.videocallwithkids.com – Like us on Facebook.
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.
Virtual visitation or electronic-visitation with Skype or FaceTime has opened up a new way to stay connected with children following divorce. In the best of situations parents will focus on what is best for the child following separation or divorce. Research clearly shows that children do best when they have contact with both parents, and that they suffer when an adversarial approach is taken. Although virtual visitation or e-visitation is not meant to be a substitute or replacement for face-to-face visitation, it does open up many new opportunities for non custodial parents.
How Can You Get Started with Virtual Visitation?
It is important for parents to understand how the affects of divorce vary with the age of the child. A good developmental book like The American Academy of Pediatrics Guide, Caring For Your Baby and Young Child can be helpful. A summary of these stages in also included in my book Learn To Video Call With Kids. Know what books, and activities are appropriate to share at different ages. For example, you can connect with infants with just your voice. Infants can recognize the voices of their parents if they have heard those voices prior to birth. Older babies love songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider and Pat-A-Cake as well as books with big bright pictures. Playing peek-a-boo with a scarf or towel is fun for young children and hand or finger puppets can quickly draw attention to you on the computer monitor.
As children get older they love to “show and tell” about their activities, toys, or milestones like stacking blocks, riding a tricycle, playing dress up. You can share hobbies, play an instrument, celebrate birthdays and holidays and watch children open gifts.
Virtual Visitation Can Be Court Mandated
Like all other custodial questions it is better if parents can work out solutions together. When that isn’t possible courts in seven states now can mandate electronic visitation.
States that currently mandate virtual visitation include:
Utah, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Indiana. Legislative efforts and pre-draft bills can be found in other states. A good website that provides links to state virtual visitation and child custody laws is http://www.internetvisitation.org. The links can be found on their Legislation page.
Consider virtual visitation with Skype or FaceTime and enjoy seeing as well as hearing your child.
Contact me and share your video call ideas
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